More tests for Earls as Munster allay ankle break fears
KEITH EARLS faces a medical examination this week after injuring his ankle while training with Munster, but initial X-rays have revealed that the bone is not broken.
"The injury occurred in a non-contact situation and a subsequent X-ray revealed no break. However, Earls will need to undergo further medical examination to determine the exact extent of the damage," read a statement issued by Munster Rugby.
There was confusion on the issue yesterday after it was reported that the Ireland and Munster three-quarter had sustained the injury during an Ireland training session, but the IRFU subsequently confirmed that Earls, who has been battling a groin injury since last season, was not with the national squad in Belfast and that the incident had occurred during a Munster session.
"Keith Earls is currently undergoing his own rehabilitation training programme for a long-standing groin injury," read the IRFU statement.
"He was not part of the Ireland training squad currently in camp in Belfast, so was not training with Ireland when he sustained the injury to his ankle."
Connacht's injury problems continue to mount ahead of next week's Magners League kick-off as it emerged yesterday that international flanker Johnny O'Connor is expected to be out of action for at least two months after damaging vertebrae in his back.
Coach Eric Elwood expects to be without up to six front-line players for their opening meeting with the Dragons and is already struggling in the back-row area due to the long-term injury to captain and blindside flanker John Muldoon, who broke his arm during Ireland's Test against New Zealand last June.
Meanwhile, Ireland flanker Stephen Ferris and hooker Rory Best, who both missed the summer tour due to injury, are ready to return to action when Ulster take on Leeds in a pre-season friendly in Ravenhill tomorrow night.
Ferris fractured his cheekbone in a training accident in April and Best injured his ankle in the closing stages of the Magners League but both players have made full recoveries.
The pair are due to play the first 40 minutes, while Ulster coach Brian McLaughlin has also included Australian full-back Adam D'Arcy, who is looking to secure a contract with the province.
D'Arcy is rated extremely highly Down Under and was expected to secure a Super 15 spot having held an academy contract with the Waratahs, but the 24-year-old decided to try his hand with Ulster when no full-time deal was forthcoming in his homeland.
"We have one full contract left to fill for the 2010-11 season and we're looking at Adam as a potential player for that place," said Ulster's Operations Director David Humphreys.
"This will be a huge opportunity for him to show us what he can potentially do for Ulster."
ULSTER (squad v Leeds) -- Forwards: B Young, R Best, D Fitzpatrick, N Brady, P McAllister, A Macklin, J Muller, T Barker, R Caldwell, S Ferris, W Faloon, P Wannenburg, R Diack, TJ Anderson. Backs: I Porter, M Heaney, N O'Connor, I Humphreys, J Shiels, D Cave, I Whitten, C Gilroy, T Seymour, D McIlwaine, A D'Arcy