Ireland sweat over the fitness of captain Best as Kearney and Leavy face spells out
Ireland captain Rory Best is in a race to be fit for his side's opening Autumn International against South Africa on November 11 at the Aviva.
The Ulster hooker tore his hamstring in training last week and has since been on crutches. Ulster expect the 35-year-old to be out of action for up to six weeks which would leave little time for Best to prove his fitness.
Best missed Ireland's Six Nations win over Italy earlier this year through illness, which brought an end to his remarkable record of having played in the previous 51 internationals.
The likelihood of either Rob Kearney (hamstring) or Dan Leavy (ankle) featuring in any of Ireland's three games looks less likely as Leinster confirmed that the pair are each facing eight weeks on the sidelines.
Kearney's wretched run of injuries continued when he was forced off at half-time of Leinster's win over Cardiff two weeks ago. Leavy, who made his international debut last November, required surgery on the ankle injury he picked up in the Cardiff game and is also looking at two months out.
The news was more positive for Munster, however, as Dave Kilcoyne's knee injury is not as bad as first feared, while JJ Hanrahan (shoulder) returns to full training this week for the first time since rejoining the club.
Meanwhile, Leinster's eventful mini-tour of South Africa continued on Sunday when Cian Healy was asked to leave their flight to Cape Town due to a "misunderstanding" regarding the use of his laptop during the approach to take-off.