Will Addison faces World Cup fitness race following back surgery
Will Addison's World Cup hopes are hanging in the balance after back surgery ruled the Ulster utility player out for the rest of the season.
It is another damaging blow to Joe Schmidt's plans following the devastating injury sustained by Grand Slam-winning flanker Dan Leavy in the Champions Cup quarter-final win against Ulster.
Addison, ironically, sustained his back problem while training with Ireland during the Six Nations window, when the issue prevented him from adding to a debut cap won against Italy last November.
This had followed a fine start to his provincial career following a summer switch from Sale Sharks and Schmidt has spoken in glowing terms of the player this term.
The Irish coach is keen to bring as many players as possible who can cover a multitude of positions and Addison's proficiency across the three-quarter line may have been invaluable.
It is hoped he may return to full fitness in pre-season but, with the first World Cup warm-up game against Italy on August 10, the 26-year-old faces a race to be fit.