Sport Rugby

Saturday 17 February 2018

Injured Fitzgerald set to sign new Leinster deal

Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

LEINSTER expect Luke Fitzgerald to sign a new contract and play for them next season despite the winger's season being ended by a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament.

The 25-year-old suffered the injury as a replacement during Saturday's Six Nations defeat to Italy and needs an operation. It is the second time he has injured the same knee.

Fitzgerald's career has nose-dived in the last two seasons – he has been affected by a series of injuries and a loss of form. Offered reduced terms last year, he signed a one-year deal that expires in June and has yet to confirm his intentions for next season.

Any chances he had of securing a better offer abroad look to be gone after his latest setback, but the European champions look set to stand by their man, according to skills and kicking coach Richie Murphy.

"There's an offer on the table for Luke and he should be back at the start of next season, and as far as I know the contract that has been offered is still there," he said.

"I'm sure he's bitterly disappointed. He's had his fair share of injuries. You'd hope he can get himself back right and ready but he can't get too many more of them really.

"He works really hard to make sure he's in good condition, he prides himself on his footwork and his strength, power and ability to beat people.

"It's a massive personal loss for him as he seemed to be enjoying his rugby and for us it's a big loss – losing a player of his calibre is never easy."

Leinster are counting the cost of a heavy Six Nations and could yet lose Brian O'Driscoll after his citing for alleged stamping yesterday.

Jonny Sexton remains in a protective boot for 10 days, while Eoin Reddan's season is over after his broken ankle against France.

There was some good news, as it emerged that Gordon D'Arcy is progressing well and could play against Pro12 leaders Glasgow Warriors at the RDS on Saturday along with Kevin McLaughlin, Isa Nacewa and Heinke van der Merwe, who are fit again.

Murphy revealed that Fergus McFadden's rib injury will not keep him out for long and he could return next week, while Richardt Strauss is also nearing a return.

Having won their four league games during the Six Nations, Leinster can go top by beating the Warriors this weekend.

Irish Independent

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