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Sunday 19 August 2018

Leo Cullen delivers positive update on Sean O'Brien after Leinster man was forced off injured on return

Scarlets 10-10 Leinster

Leinster captain Sean O'Brien at Parc Y Scarlets in Llanelli, Wales
Leinster captain Sean O'Brien at Parc Y Scarlets in Llanelli, Wales
Leinster's Seán OBrien. Photo: Sportsfile

Independent.ie Sportsfile

Leinster head coach Leo Cullen issued a positive update on Sean O'Brien after the Ireland flanker lasted just 27 minutes on his return to competitive action.

Playing his first game since undergoing minor hip surgery in January, the 31-year-old back-rower was forced off after less than half an hour into Leinster's 10-10 draw with Scarlets with a shoulder injury. O'Brien was hit hard in contact and initially played on before leaving the field.

Ireland boss Joe Schmidt had hoped O'Brien would come through the game in Llanelli to put himself in contention for next Saturday's potential Grand Slam decider with England.

That game now looks one too far for the Lions star, but Cullen wasn't too downbeat when asked for an update on the game's main talking point. It is understood O'Brien was up and about in the changing room at the end of the game and talking positively with his Leinster team-mates.

"Sean is OK in there, he took a bang on the shoulder and we'll just have to see how that settles down," said Cullen after seeing his team held at Parc y Scarlets.

"It's early days yet, so we'll just have to see. We'll have a report on that next week. There's no long lasting damage I'm aware of and once I have more information, I'll have more to tell you."

Asked if O'Brien could yet face England at Twickenham, Cullen played a straight bat.

More information is expected from the Leinster camp within the next 24 hours.

A penalty from Scarlets out-half Dan Jones with the last kick of the game ensured Leinster had to settle for a share of the spoils following an Ed Byrne try which was converted by Ross Byrne.

Opposite

Jones' opposite number Ross Byrne kicked a 73rd-minute penalty for what looked like the winning three points, but the home side were then pegged back once more.

"It was a strange game with it due to be played last week. It was all a bit peculiar," said Cullen.

"We had plenty of opportunities, but so did the Scarlets and it's disappointing we couldn't close the game out. We were ahead and in a good territorial position at the end of the game, so we put ourselves under pressure and those are things we can probably do a bit better from our end.

"On the flip side, this is a difficult place to come and we're missing a hell of a lot of players at the moment."

A scoreless first half was dominated by O'Brien's leaving of the field.

After the break, Ed Byrne's converted try was cancelled out by Paul Asquith.

Ross Byrne and Jones then kicked penalties to tie the game. Leinster stay top of Conference B with this result and in truth, a draw was probably a fair result.

"We've managed to edge the head-to-head with the Scarlets who are a good side. It keeps us top of the conference and from that point of view it's OK," Cullen added.

"A win would have pushed us further clear, but it's a draw away from home and we've been a bit frustrated with two of the away games we've had in this block.

"We've come away with a draw and a loss so there are areas we can definitely improve upon."

Scarlets - Williams; Nicholas, Asquith, S Hughes (capt), Conbeer (Varndell 60); Jones, Evans (Smith 75) (Fawcett 75); Price, Elias (Phillips 73), Kruger (Gardiner 59); Cummins (Rawlins 56), Bulbring; Beirne, MacLeod, Boyde.

Leinster - D Kearney; Daly (A Byrne 74), O'Loughlin, Reid, Lowe; R Byrne, McCarthy; E Byrne (Dooley 56), B Byrne (Tracy 56), Bent; Molony, Fardy; Murphy (M Kearney 64), O'Brien (Deegan 27), Conan.

REF - Nigel Owens (WRU).

Irish Independent

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