Tuesday 20 February 2018

Blow for Ireland as Luke Fitzgerald ruled out of Six Nations

Luke Fitzgerald
Luke Fitzgerald

Tom Rooney

Luke Fitzgerald will miss the entire Six Nations after sustaining a medial ligament knee injury during Ireland’s open training session at the Aviva Stadium last Friday.

Fitzgerald is said to have twisted his knee during a tackling drill and will be sidelined for between six and eight weeks. For the time being, a replacement for the Leinster utility back will not be called upon.

Fitzgerald now joins Tommy Bowe, Iain Henderson, Peter O’Mahony and Marty Moore in the cadre of seasoned internationals unavailable to Joe Schmidt for the campaign ahead.

Ireland team manager Michael Kearney confirmed that all of the eight Irish players who were released for club duty last weekend have returned to Carton House in full health.

Of Fitzgerald, Kearney said that the 2009 Lion was deeply disappointed with what is the latest in an extensive and brutal list of injuries over the past three years.

“He’s obviously very unfortunate and unlucky to be out of the Six Nations, but it could have been worse as well," he said.

“He was very upset to be honest with you and probably feared the worst. He’s had a very good run injury wise since the end of last season and had a great World Cup, and was flying right through for Leinster until the open session on Friday.”

Indeed, it is a crushing blow for Fitzgerald as he was likely to be in the running for a starting spot in a number of positions as Ireland seek to win a third successive Championship, beginning with the visit of Wales to the Aviva Stadium on Sunday.

An outstanding defender, who has revelled at first centre at provincial level since returning from the World Cup where, in the quarter final loss to Argentina most notably, his acceleration and footwork demonstrated the dynamism Fitzgerald can bring to a back line.

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