Wednesday 23 October 2019

Henshaw likely to miss Euro deciders and England clash

Ireland's Robbie Henshaw. Photo: PA
Ireland's Robbie Henshaw. Photo: PA

Rúaidhrí O'Connor

Robbie Henshaw could miss the start of the Six Nations after Leinster revealed he faces another eight weeks out with his hamstring injury.

The centre was ruled out of the November internationals with the injury he suffered in training at the beginning of that window and was initially expected to be out for four-to-six weeks.

However, he's been assessed further it looks like he'll miss the remainder of Leinster's European campaign and potentially the opening matches of the national team's Championship defence against England and Italy.

Henshaw has had an injury disrupted year, a serious shoulder injury ended his Six Nations campaign last February and hurt his knee in the Champions Cup final.

Leinster senior coach Stuart Lancaster acknowledged that the Athlone native will be a loss to the province in their remaining European games against Bath, Toulouse and Wasps as well as the hat-trick of interpros around Christmas.

"It is a huge hole to fill," he said. "That, alongside Joe Tomane being out for a longer period of time: your two physical centres who would bring that balance to your back line. We definitely miss Robbie, particularly for his experience.

"When you look at European games you can pretty much get them at almost Test level in terms of the intensity. Particularly when you are playing against a side as good as Bath with so many internationals playing and motivated to play well.

Missing "You want all your big-game players playing and unfortunately we were missing Robbie but delighted to get the win overall. It was a tough place to go and win.

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"It reminded me of going to Exeter last year and the game back at the Aviva will be just as tough because if you look at the game against Exeter here last year as well we only got on top of them in the last ten minutes."

Leinster have not ruled Johnny Sexton out of the return fixture against Bath at the Aviva Stadium.

He came off last weekend's win at the Rec with a calf injury, but the province say he'll be assessed further in the coming days before a final decision is made on his fitness.

"We're optimistic," Lancaster said of Sexton. "We're hopeful but you couldn't say for definite at the moment. He got a bang on his calf, which has meant that he is going to be limited as to what he can do at the start of the week.

"We will give him as long a time as possible to get himself available. If he is not, we have every confidence in Ross (Byrne). I think the progress he's made certainly in the course of the last 12 months in particular (has been impressive)."

Scrum-half Nick McCarthy has been ruled out for 12 weeks, but Barry Daly has stepped up his training as the winger nears a return.

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