Monday 26 August 2019

Cullen taking no risks with Fitzgerald injury

Rob Kearney
Rob Kearney
Devin Toner
Cian Healy goes through his paces during Leinster training in UCD yesterday
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

Leinster are sweating over the fitness of Luke Fitzgerald after he was forced off with a shoulder injury after just 28 minutes of Sunday's win in Treviso.

A neck injury in 2012 that kept Fitzgerald out of action for the majority of the season was serious enough to threaten his career and Leo Cullen admitted that he didn't want to take any chances with him in Italy.

Cullen is still waiting for a medical update on Fitzgerald's shoulder but he is almost certainly ruled of Friday's clash against league leaders Scarlets at the RDS.

"Luke got a bang on the shoulder. He's just being assessed. There is a short turnaround with the Scarlets on Friday. It is likely we won't play him," Cullen said.

"He's clearly had a few problems with his neck in the past. He had a long lay-off with that neck before. We wouldn't take any risks - I'll get the medics' update this evening, make a few calls based on what's good for the group.

"We've a lot of big games coming up. Scarlets on Friday, who are 100pc in the league, two European games, then Ulster, then Glasgow, then Toulon away and home, then Munster and Connacht, then back into Europe, the Ospreys and back into Europe again. It is a pretty hectic schedule."

Johnny Sexton came through 51 minutes on his return from the groin injury that kept him out of Ireland's World Cup quarter-final defeat to Argentina but he was taken off the kicking duties.

Cullen, however, explained the reasoning behind the decision as he allayed fears surrounding Sexton's fitness.

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"Johnny came through fine. We were just keen to get him off. He had a chest before the game, coughing and spluttering.

"When he went off for 10 minutes (when sin binned), he had cooled down and there was a kick pretty soon after that.

"Because he cooled down for 10 minutes rather than risk anything, it was better to be cautious. And when you've got someone of the quality of Ferg (McFadden) to be able to kick as well."

Elsewhere, Simon Zebo's agent has refused to rule his client out of a move from Munster after social media reports in France linked the Cork native with Toulouse.

Zebo is currently contracted to Munster not the IRFU and has regularly spoken in the past about being open to a move to France.

"I have a lot of family over there. I speak French but that is something that I would have to think about come contract time, which is actually quite soon," the 25-year old said in July.

When contacted by the Irish Independent, Zebo's representative was not willing to comment on the speculation.

Toulouse are on the look-out for a marquee signing after France No 8 Louis Picamoles confirmed that he will join Northampton next summer.

Meanwhile, Connacht hooker Jason Harris-Wright is close to a return to first-team action for Connacht after 12 months on the sidelines. He is expected to feature for the Connacht Eagles against his Leinster at the RDS this Thursday.

Irish Independent

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