independent

Wednesday 23 April 2014

O'Driscoll facing ban as injury toll hits provinces

Brian O'Driscoll looks on from the sinbin during Ireland's defeat to Italy

IRELAND'S provincial sides have been left to count the cost after Saturday's final game in the 2013 Six Nations.

Leinster, Munster and Ulster are all in European action in just under three weeks' time and all three are likely to have to plan without some major players.

Leinster will potentially be the heaviest hit after Luke Fitzgerald twisted a knee, but of even greater concern is the potential unavailability of Brian O'Driscoll as the talismanic centre is likely to be cited tomorrow for stamping on Italy's Simone Favaro during the first half of Saturday's defeat in Rome.

O'Driscoll let the frustration of Italy deliberately slowing the ball down in the ruck get the better of him and his discipline deserted him.

It is unlikely that citing commissioner Aurwel Morgan will let the incident pass without reference in his report. And if O'Driscoll is cited and handed down a suspension, it is almost certain he would miss the Amlin Challenge Cup quarter-final against Wasps on April 5.

Ulster are also potentially going to be without Iain Henderson after he suffered tendon damage, but although Luke Marshall suffered a concussion for the second consecutive week, he is likely to be cleared to play.

And Munster will also be hit. Keith Earls is a serious doubt for their game against Harlequins on April 7 after dislocating his shoulder, while Donnacha Ryan's body must be in danger of giving up after a particularly arduous championship campaign.

Ryan is unlikely to see much action between now and that Heineken Cup clash at the Stoop.

There are also numerous less serious injuries that were sustained during the tournament which will ensure that the provinces' medical departments will have a busy few weeks and months ahead.

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