Tadhg Furlong in race to be fit for Glasgow after failing Head Injury Assessment
Tadhg Furlong is a doubt for Leinster's Champions Cup meeting with Glasgow Warriors on Sunday after failing a Head Injury Assessment (HIA) at half-time of Saturday's win over Ulster.
It is unclear when the Ireland tighthead prop suffered the injury and coach Leo Cullen became defensive when asked about it in the aftermath of his team's impressive win.
Garry Ringrose and James Tracy are also major doubts for the RDS clash, but it Furlong who will cause the most concern for the coaches ahead of a crucial fortnight.
Despite Andrew Porter's best performance to date off the bench, there is still concern for province and country when the Campile native goes down injured as he did midway through the first half..
Arguably, Furlong is now alongside Johnny Sexton as the man Ireland can least afford to lose if they want to win the Six Nations.
So, there was palpable relief when the Wexford native returned to his feet after getting lengthy treatment for an arm issue, but when he didn't appear after the interval it was presumed the two were related.
Not so, Cullen explained. Furlong had failed a HIA in the dressing-room at half-time and was not allowed to return.
The prop went down in the 22nd minute after colliding with Josh Murphy as they doubled up in a tackle on Christian Leali'ifano and doctors attended to his left arm. After the treatment, he carried on until the break and was involved in five scrums and three mauls, making two hard carries and two tackles in the remainder of the half.
As he left the field there was little to suggest he wouldn't return and it was a surprise when Cullen revealed that he had been withdrawn due to a head issue.
So, the coach was asked if the withdrawal was related to the earlier treatment.
"I don't think so, I don't know for certain," he said.
"I have to look back on it again. Again, this is a call, I was told at half-time, 'we're going to put him through a HIA', so then we go back out and I'm told that 'Tadhg's not going to come back on'.
"So that's the way the information gets relayed to me, and I'm just relaying the information that gets relayed to me, to you guys.
"OK? Just to clear up - what is a HIA? Does everybody know what a HIA is? How that assessment works? Do they? The information's out there..."
It was a bizarre moment, out of keeping with an evening in which his team provided riotous entertainment in beating their rivals six tries to one, but the focus soon turned to Sunday's meeting with Glasgow.
Furlong is now in a race to be fit for the game but the eight-day turnaround could work in his favour. Having failed the initial test in the dressing-room, the Lion will go through the stages of the Return to Play protocols in a bid to show that he is clear of concussive symptoms before that game.
Cullen is likely to be without Ringrose and Tracy for Glasgow after both were forced off injured and both men could be in trouble for the start of the Six Nations.
Ringrose limped off with a heavy ankle midway through the second half, while hooker Tracy hurt his elbow and looked in some discomfort as he left the field. An update on all three will be provided tomorrow.
Ulster, meanwhile, hope to provide some good news to their beleaguered fans in the coming days in the form of an out-half to replace Leali'ifano, who departs after the European games against La Rochelle and Wasps.
Les Kiss confirmed that a replacement has been signed, but couldn't give a name.
Wallaby legend Matt Giteau is the name on everybody's lips at Ravenhill, however, and if the province land the ex-Toulon playmaker, who is currently competing for the Japanese title with Suntory, it will be a major boost to their season.
Veteran winger Tommy Bowe is likely to miss those games after suffering a shoulder injury in the build-up to Jacob Stockdale's consolation try.