Thursday 12 December 2019

Fears grow for Luke Fitzgerald's future after latest injury

There are fears that Luke Fitzgerald could retire from rugby Photo: Sportsfile
There are fears that Luke Fitzgerald could retire from rugby Photo: Sportsfile

John Fallon

There are growing fears that Luke Fitzgerald is about to announce his retirement from rugby with a neck injury which has bothered him for several years.

The 28-year old Leinster wing missed Ireland's tour to South Africa with a knee injury picked up in the Pro12 final loss to Connacht, having missed the Six Nations due to a medial knee ligament problem.

It has emerged that a serious neck injury sustained in 2012 is prompting Fitzgerald to strongly consider retirement, with an announcement expected this week.

He has sustained a string of injuries since bursting on the scene, making his Leinster debut a week short of his 19th birthday and his Ireland bow two months later.

That was all in 2006, but a series of ailments have prevented him from fulfilling his potential.

He did not make the World Cup squad in 2007 or 2011, having been on the Grand Slam team of 2009, but he finally made his World Cup debut against Canada in September.

He also featured against Italy, France and Argentina in the competition but that loss to the Pumas now looks like being his final Irish game.

His retirement would be a second blow in a week to Leinster coach Leo Cullen following scrum-half Eoin Reddan's decision to walk away from rugby. Fitzgerald has made 154 appearances for Leinster, scoring 32 tries.

He previously spoke about the neck injury - largely down to wear and tear - which came close to ending his career in 2012 when he missed the Six Nations and Leinster's Heineken Cup success.

"There's no-one else playing the game professionally with the neck injury I have, so you take a chance with that," he said.

"The only reason why I came back from the neck injury was because I felt very unfulfilled with how my career had gone in terms of where I feel I should get to, and where I feel I left it."

However, it now appears that neck injury is set to bring a halt to his career at just 28.

And he looks set to leave the stage with 34 Ireland caps - the same number his father Des won as a prop from 1984-92.

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