WITH IRELAND’S WORLD Cup curtain-raiser with the United States less than a fortnight away, Leinster’s star flanker Sean O’Brien’s participation is shrouded in doubt.
According to a report by Hugh Farrelly the Irish Independent, O’Brien sustained a heavy knee injury in training.
The knock would almost definitely end his participation in the squad’s pre-tournament preparations, while his participation in New Zealand would be uncertain.
O’Brien, however, is currently togged out and ready for training at the Aviva Stadium, according to Des Cahill on RTÉ radio.
There was no comment from the IRFU when contacted by TheScore this morning; a spokesperson said there will be news on his fitness at 12.30 when Declan Kidney names his side to face England.
The Irish squad are currently undergoing an open training session at Lansdowne Road in front of 7,000 fans.
If injured, the news would come as a blow to manager Declan Kidney, who had been hoping to bring his side’s dismal series of preparatory friendlies to a positive conclusion against Martin Johnson’s England this weekend.
Though Stephen Ferris is more than capable of providing adequate cover for O’Brien at No 6, the Ulster man is unlikely to bring the same dynamism to the role as that demonstrated by his 24-year-old counterpart in recent months.
Whereas Ireland find themselves burdened by the loss of a reliable back-row performer for this weekend’s clash at the Aviva Stadium, England’s pack will be buoyed by the return of Stade Francais’s James Haskell. The English blind-side had been sidelined by a minor foot injury.
Whatever the news on O’Brien, he didn’t seem hampered by any knock yesterday as he came out on top in the squad’s karting outing, pictured.