Luke Fitzgerald faces World Cup fitness race
Luke Fitzgerald's World Cup preparations have been thrown into disarray after the twinkle-toed winger was forced to undergo shoulder surgery last weekend which may leave him sidelined until August.
The Leinster star, who has never appeared in a World Cup for his country, is not expected to be in any danger of missing the tournament in England and Wales which begins next September.
However, it is highly unlikely that he will be able to fulfil the planned pre-season campaign which begins in July and then encapsulates four warm-up games in August and September.
Fitzgerald will definitely miss Leinster's desperate two-match scramble to ensure their qualification for the Champions Cup.
And, with at least four to six weeks required for the labrum to reattach itself to the rim of the shoulder bone, and probably another four to six weeks to get strong, once there is no further damage, the player is likely to have to face anything up to three months on the sidelines before being able to prove his fitness.
"Luke Fitzgerald has had an issue with his shoulder and that is being repaired as well," confirmed Leinster assistant coach Leo Cullen.
"Basically, it's a repair to his labrum, he suffered a bit of damage there. He only got it done at the weekend so it's a bit early to say.
"We'll find out more as the week goes on in terms of how long it might be. He will certainly be out for the next two weeks. I don't think it's a World Cup issue."
It is an issue for Leinster, though, who are already without another pair of shoulder surgery victims, Sean Cronin and Marty Moore, while experienced Shane Jennings remains a doubt as he recovers from concussion ahead of Friday's vital Pro12 tie against Treviso in the RDS.