Sunday 27 May 2018

Heaslip targeting New year injury return

Jamie Heaslip is aiming to return to the pitch in time for the Six Nations. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Jamie Heaslip is aiming to return to the pitch in time for the Six Nations. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Jamie Heaslip is aiming to return to the pitch in time for the Six Nations.

The Ireland No 8 has not played since damaging his back in the warm-up before Ireland's win over England in March and has undergone two operations on the injury. He is targeting a return early in the new year.

He was aiming for a much earlier return but suffered a setback in September that forced him under the knife for a second time, prompting fears for his long-term future.

This is the longest spell the 33-year-old has spent out of rugby in his career, but Ireland coach Joe Schmidt said he hoped that there was light at the end of the tunnel.

Speaking to 'The Rugby Pod', the Kildare native said he was in the frame for a return after Christmas.

"I had a bit of trouble in the warm-up. We got to the bottom of it, it's been a frustrating period of time but hopefully I'll be back on the pitch early next year," he said.

Meanwhile, Connacht coach Kieran Keane will hand immediate recalls to Kieran Marmion and Ultan Dillane for this weekend's PRO14 clash with Zebre, but Bundee Aki will take a rest after his Ireland exploits.

Aki made his much-debated debut for Ireland against South Africa and started against Argentina and Keane is excited to see how natural the step up to international level was for Aki.

"There was a lot of press around the pros and the cons but personally I was rapt for him. He did really well in his first stand," said Keane.

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