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'There's no long-lasting damage I'm aware of': Cullen hopeful on Sean O'Brien's shoulder injury

‘Bang on the shoulder’ forced Sean O’Brien off after just 27 minutes of his comeback.

O'Brien:
O'Brien: "A bang on the shoulder."
Image: Ian Cook/INPHO

SEAN O’BRIEN’S SHOULDER injury may not be as serious as first feared despite the Ireland flanker being forced off just 27 minutes into his return to competitive action with Leinster.

Playing his first game since undergoing minor hip surgery in January, O’Brien left the field less than half an hour into Leinster’s 10-10 draw with the Scarlets.

The 31-year-old was hit hard in contact by Werner Kruger and Dan Jones and initially played on before leaving the field.

Ireland boss Joe Schmidt had hoped O’Brien would come through the game in Llanelli to put himself in contention for next Saturday’s potential Six Nations Grand Slam decider with England at Twickenham.

That game now looks one too far for the British & Irish Lions star, but Cullen wasn’t too downbeat when asked for an update on the game’s main talking point.

It is understood O’Brien was up and about in the changing room at the end of the game and talking positively with his Leinster team-mates.

“Sean is OK in there. He took a bang on the shoulder and we’ll just have to see how that settles down,” said Cullen.

“It’s early days yet, so we’ll just have to see. We’ll have a report on that next week.

“There’s no long-lasting damage I’m aware of and once I have more information, I’ll have more to tell you.”

Asked if O’Brien could yet face England at Twickenham, Cullen played a straight bat.
He said: “I don’t know how many ways I can keep answering the same question.”

More information is expected from the Leinster camp within the next 48 hours.

A penalty from Scarlets out-half Dan Jones with the last kick of the game ensured Leinster had to settle for a share of the spoils following an Ed Byrne try which was converted by Ross Byrne.

Jones’ opposite number Ross Byrne kicked a 73rd-minute penalty for what looked like the winning three points, but the home side were then pegged back once more.

“It was a strange game with it due to be played last week. It was all a bit peculiar,” said Cullen.

“We had plenty of opportunities, but so did the Scarlets and it’s disappointing we couldn’t close the game out. We were ahead and in a good territorial position at the end of the game, so we put ourselves under pressure and those are things we can probably do a bit better from our end.

“On the flip side, this is a difficult place to come and we’re missing a hell of a lot of players at the moment.”

A scoreless first half was dominated by O’Brien’s leaving of the field. After the break, Ed Byrne’s converted try was cancelled out by Paul Asquith, before Ross Byrne and Jones then kicked penalties to tie the game.

Leinster stay top of Conference B with this result and in truth, a draw was probably a fair result.

“We’ve managed to edge the head-to-head with the Scarlets who are a good side. It keeps us top of the Conference and from that point of view it’s OK,” Cullen added.

“A win would have pushed us further clear, but it’s a draw away from home and we’ve been a bit frustrated with two of the away games we’ve had in this block.

“We’ve come away with a draw and a loss so there are areas we can definitely improve upon.”

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