O'Connell may miss rest of season
Published 04/04/2011 | 05:00
Munster captain Paul O'Connell's season could be over with the second-row due in Dublin today to discover how long his rehabilitation will take from the ankle injury he sustained in Munster's win over Leinster.
The answer could be in months rather than weeks and he could well miss the rest of the season -- although it was confirmed yesterday he did not fracture his ankle.
O'Connell had to be helped from the pitch after landing heavily on his left ankle after a line-out and, having already missed a large portion of the season with a groin injury, another spell on the sidelines constitutes a serious blow for the player.
Munster face Brive away in their Challenge Cup quarter-final on Saturday, while Ireland's World Cup campaign in New Zealand is now five months away. With just six weeks left in the regular season, that could mean O'Connell playing no competitive rugby until August when Ireland play their four World Cup warm-up matches against Scotland, France (twice) and England.
There were no other major injury concerns after Saturday's intensely physical encounter, and Leinster will be hoping flanker Shane Jennings will be back after missing the Munster match.
Leicester geared up for their Heineken Cup quarter-final with Joe Schmidt's side with a 17-13 win at Harlequins. However, the Tigers may be without loose-head Marcus Ayerza for the trip to Lansdowne Road after the Argentinian was sent off with Quins prop Joe Marler after a brawl.
Brive had a confidence-boosting 26-9 home win over La Rochelle to steel them for their Munster assignment.
Northampton head into their Heineken Cup clash with Ulster on the back of a 53-24 hammering of Sale, which keeps them in the hunt for an English Premiership play-off spot.