Injury blow for Tiernan O'Halloran's hopes of Six Nations call-up
Tiernan O'Halloran's lingering hopes of getting a late call-up for his first taste of the Six Nations look to be over.
The 26-year-old doubled his Irish caps to six when he played in all three games on the summer tour to the USA and Japan but he didn't make the cut for the November series.
And any hope he had of being drafted in for the second part of the Six Nations campaign look dim after he suffered a hamstring injury in Connacht's 26-15 win over Ospreys.
Indeed, the full-back is now in race to be fit for Connacht's Challenge Cup quarter-final at home to Gloucester on Easter Saturday. Better news for Connacht is that Andrew Browne's shoulder injury does not require surgery and the 30-year-old second-row should be fit to face Ospreys.
Back-row Seán O'Brien is back training for the last two weeks and will be available for selection when former coach Michael Bradley returns to the Sportsground on Friday with Zebre.
Niyi Adeolokun is also back in training, while Connacht will be further boosted by the return of some of their Ireland Six Nations contingent.
Scrum-half Kieran Marmion and lock Quinn Roux could both feature in Friday's Guinness PRO14 fixture.
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Meanwhile, Munster centre Sam Arnold believes that the experience of being involved in the Ireland training camp will be a stepping stone to international honours. Arnold gave a superb display and scored two tries for Munster in their 33-5 bonus-point PRO14 victory over Zebre at Thomond Park last Saturday.
The 21-year-old former Ulster back travelled with the Ireland squad to Spain for their warm-weather Six Nations training camp and he was also involved in their preparations for the French game at Carton House.
"It was a really good experience. It was great to be up there and get a feel for the environment during a match week, the guys were unbelievable. They helped me out a lot up there," he said.
"It was good to have the older heads like Conor Murray, Pete and Earlsie around. If I had a question, they would be the first lads I would go to and ask.
"I had a good chat with Andy Farrell when I was there. I also spoke to Joe and I think I know what he wants me to do going forward," added Arnold, who will be hoping to add to the five tries he has scored in seven appearances for Munster this season against Cardiff Blues on Saturday.
Meanwhile, Ulster's hopes of qualifying for next season's Champions Cup have been damaged by news of serious injuries to flanker Sean Reidy and star back Charles Piutau, who may have played his last game for the club.