Ross facing race to make Six Nations
Ireland could be forced to do without Mike Ross for a Six Nations game for the first time since 2010 after Leinster revealed the prop is facing six weeks on the sidelines due to a "high grade" hamstring strain suffered against Toulon.
The Cork native has had a stranglehold on the No 3 jersey since making his Championship debut against Italy in February 2011 and has been fit to start every one of Ireland's 24 Six Nations games since.
Ross, who turned 36 yesterday, has spoken of his desire to continue at the highest level for as long as possible, but his absence could open the door for Nathan White, Marty Moore or Tadhg Furlong to start against Wales on February 7.
It is a further blow for Joe Schmidt, who already has to cope without Peter O'Mahony, Iain Henderson and Tommy Bowe for the tournament, as well as retired captain Paul O'Connell.
There was some good news for the Ireland coach yesterday with Leinster indicating that Sean O'Brien could come back into the frame for Sunday's clash with Munster. The flanker hasn't played since the November 15 defeat to Wasps due to an inner ear problem.
Johnny Sexton is a doubt for the Munster game after suffering a recurrence of the quad muscle injury that ended his World Cup involvement, while Cian Healy's appeal against his two-week ban will be heard tomorrow.