Friday 15 December 2017

Connacht and Ireland lock Ultan Dillane a serious doubt for the Six Nations

Ultan Dillane in action against the All Blacks
Ultan Dillane in action against the All Blacks

John Fallon

Irish lock Ultan Dillane looks set to miss the start of the Six Nations with an ankle injury picked up in Connacht’s pre-Christmas loss away to Ulster.

The 23-year old is facing at least five to six weeks on the sideline and could be out for longer if he has to undergo surgery.

Connacht coach Pat Lam said that Dillane, who has chalked up eight caps since making his debut against England in Twickenham in Six Nations last season, is to see a specialist to establish the best way to resolve the injury.

“He is seeing an ankle specialist to determine that treatment plan. The best case scenario is five or six weeks, whether he is going to go down for surgery or no surgery recovery,” said Lam.

Dillane looks unlikely to be available for the Six Nations opener away to Scotland on February 4, with Ireland travelling to Italy a week later.

Meanwhile, Connacht coach Lam is again struggling to count fit bodies as the Pro12 champions strive to prevent a third league loss in a row when they head to Swansea on Saturday to take on high-flying Ospreys.

Captain John Muldoon has been ruled out with a hamstring injury picked up in training, while flanker Nepia Fox-Matamua also joins the unavailable list after dislocating a rib in the weekend home loss to Munster.

But the new crisis area for Connacht is at out-half with replacement scrum-half Caolin Blade put on standby duty to fill in if Jack Carty is unable to play.

Carty, who was called into his first Irish squad session this week, is struggling with a calf injury, with the other three number tens Marnitz Boshoff, Craig Ronaldson and Shane O’Leary all out of action.

“Jack can’t train at the moment, so Caolin has been in there covering but thankfully we haven’t had to use him there yet. But if Jack can’t play this week Caolin Blade will play 10,” added Lam.

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