Wilkinson faces fitness race for Ireland tour
CONNACHT prop Brett Wilkinson could miss out on the Irish summer tour to New Zealand after suffering a calf injury against Ulster at the weekend, which will see him miss the remainder of the season.
Wilkinson's hopes of making the World Cup squad were ended by a hamstring injury in August and the 28-year-old now faces a race against time to make the summer tour.
The South Africa-born loose-head has yet to make his Irish debut, but was considered a certainty to travel to New Zealand this summer after training with Ireland throughout this year's Six Nations campaign.
Eric Elwood yesterday confirmed that he will miss Connacht's remaining games against Aironi and Glasgow but that they are doing all they can to ensure he makes the trip with Ireland.
"He has a tear in his calf and that is going to take three to four weeks. We are hopeful he can be back for the New Zealand tour," said Elwood.
"We have him down in the cryochamber in Ennis and he is working hard down there to get the injury sorted. We are doing everything possible to ensure he is given a fair chance of getting back for the squad announcement.
"We want to give him that option, but he won't make the last two games for us, they are a bit soon for him, but hopefully he can make it."
Ireland play the Barbarians in Kingsholm as a pre-tour warm-up on May 29, and the squad will depart soon after ahead of their first New Zealand test on June 9.
Elwood also confirmed that fly-half Niall O'Connor will also miss the remainder of the season because of a head injury, while prop Jamie Stephens faces an extend recuperation period after he ruptured his Achilles playing for Galwegians at the weekend.