Brendan Fanning: O'Driscoll in surgery scare
Leinster will be without Ireland captain Brian O'Driscoll for the defence of their Heineken Cup if specialists this week recommend surgery on the shoulder injury he has been carrying since last season.
And Shane Horgan's career is also in the balance after knee surgery to fix a persistent problem.
Leinster coach Joe Schmidt conceded this weekend that the reigning champions might have to cope without both players, and fears that repeated stinger injuries which O'Driscoll suffers now require an operation. Stinger injuries are common in rugby and involve temporary nerve impairment caused by trauma. Although transient, they can cause weakness to the area and have a tendency to recur, sometimes becoming chronic.
"That's one of the things we're trying to decipher at the moment and that's the reason he's gone to some more specialists and had some more scans, so that we can either find a solution to the stinger that kind of comes and goes," said Schmidt. "He's a fairly precious commodity, BOD, so we want to make sure we don't play him in the condition that's going to affect him in the future and we look after him as best we can. Because if we can get him right, he's a fairly handy fellah to have."
It is understood that O'Driscoll, who will be 33 in January and is contracted up until the end of next season, was receiving cortisone injections to the shoulder/neck area over a number of months last season to keep him on the field.
On a few occasions during games he could be seen favouring the shoulder, or avoiding contact altogether until power returned.
"He's copped a few shots where he hasn't really been ready for the contact, you know?" said Schmidt. "There was one in the Magners final last year which gave him a bit of whiplash and that didn't help either. Every time we've kind of got him right, something's happened -- whether it's been a full impact or it's been an unexpected impact, it's caused discomfort. As I said, we just want to get him back to 100 per cent."
If O'Driscoll receives the all-clear
for now, he may be in contention for next weekend's Heineken Cup opening-round trip to Top 14 side Montpellier, having missed the victory over Munster at the Aviva Stadium on Friday night.
LEADING MAN DREADING FINAL CURTAIN CALL Page 8
The situation with Horgan's knee will also become clearer this week, and he was due home yesterday having had an operation in Sweden to correct a problem that ruled him out of the World Cup.
"The last operation went really well," Schmidt said., "but there was a build-up of scar tissue and that was very inhibiting for him and so, hopefully this time . . .
"I certainly hope for us and for Shaggy (Horgan) that he does come through this one and he's back playing soon. But the prognosis would still be months of rehab. He's probably in the condition of his life. But the best we can hope for is January at this stage."
Meanwhile, it has been confirmed that the medial ligament injury which Keith Earls suffered against Leinster on Friday night will keep him out for four weeks at least.
Ulster have their injury worries too, with captain Johann Muller being led from the filed at the final whistle of last night's victory over Connacht with a suspected broken arm. Stephen Ferris also went off after going over on an ankle, and Tom Court suffered a knee injury.
Sunday Indo Sport