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AC joint to keep Thornbury out of Connacht action until 'at least November'

With a South Africa trip in store for the Westerners, a December return has been mooted.

Image: Bryan Keane/INPHO

A POOR WEEK for Connacht has taken another bad turn with confirmation that promising lock Gavin Thornbury will be out for several weeks with a shoulder injury.

Thornbury, who will be 25 later this month, suffered the injury in the early stages of the game against Scarlets last Saturday week.

And having been drafted into one of the Irish camps during the summer, it is unfortunate timing as Joe Schmidt surveys his options for the four autumn international games.

“He’s going to be at least November, December potentially, before he is back. It is an AC joint,” said Connacht coach Andy Friend.

Having already missed the clash with Leinster due to the injury, the prognosis will see Thornbury sidelined during the opening rounds of the Challenge Cup. Connacht play just twice in November, meeting Dragons early in the month before embarking on a tour to South Africa after the league takes a break.

Such trips rarely allow for tentative returns from injury, so the Challenge Cup round three meeting with Perpignan would appear a sensible re-entry point for the powerful lock.

“It is (a big set-back) but he has a bright future ahead of him,” adds Friend.

“They all want to be playing, every day they want to be playing but that’s the sport we play. It’s a contact sport. He only had three minutes in the Scarlets game but in that three minutes he was pretty dynamic and did some good things for us. He has got a very bright future.”

The loss of Thornbury adds to a difficult week with prop Dominic Robertson-McCoy facing a ban for a stamp on Josh van der Flier, while Fijian Sevu Reece is now unlikely to join Connacht after pleading guilty in a domestic assault case in New Zealand.

Reece, who has been in superb form for Waikato in the Mitre Cup, was due to join Connacht on a two-year deal next month but that looks like being withdrawn by the province and the IRFU.

“It’s actually a process I’m not involved in,” added Friend. “We have got a big game this weekend, a six-day turn around, and that’s where my focus is at the moment.

Sevu Reece Sevu Reece in action against the Lions last year. Source: Photosport/Andrew Cornaga/INPHO

“We have a six-day turn around and we have trained very well out there today and their energy is good. It’s another inter-pro and it’s not hard to get these boys up for that.”

Dave Heffernan, who captained the team in the 20-3 loss to Leinster at the weekend, underwent a scan to establish the extent on an ankle injury on Monday. But Friend is hopeful that squad captain Jarrad Butler may be available for Friday’s trip to Belfast, where Connacht have not won in the professional era and whose last success at Ravenhill was way back in 1960.

“Jarrad trained with us today and we will just check how he pulls out of that but he is integrated back into the programme and hopefully he will be available for selection this weekend.”

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John Fallon

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