Tadhg Furlong faces a race to be fit for Ireland’s Guinness Six Nations opener but Leinster boss Leo Cullen hopes the tighthead prop’s injury is “not too bad”.
The 29-year-old came off after just seven minutes of Leinster’s thumping 89-7 victory over Montpellier in Europe at the weekend, raising concerns about his Championship availability.
Ireland welcome defending Guinness Six Nations champions Wales in the Championship curtain-raiser on February 5 and the health of their vice-captain will be monitored closely in the coming weeks.
Cullen confirmed that Furlong suffered a calf injury, having also had a lengthy absence last year with a similar issue, but said it is hoped the problem is not serious.
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Back-three flyer Jordan Lamour also came off during the game with a dead leg while lock James Ryan missed the record win over Montpellier with a hamstring injury.
And although all three players are a doubt for Leinster’s European game with Bath this weekend, Cullen was optimistic about them being back before the Guinness Six Nations.
“So, Jordan [Larmour] is a dead leg, probably 25 or 30 minutes into the game,” said Cullen. “Tadhg [Furlong], his calf, we’re hoping it’s not too bad. James [Ryan] is a hamstring on Friday.
“We just sort of managed him yesterday. Again, hopefully it’s not too bad. It doesn’t seem too bad but it’s a short turnaround and we’ll assess him a bit more early in the week.”
Andy Farrell will also take encouragement from the return to action for Johnny Sexton and Jack Conan, with the former coming off the bench for his first minutes in two months.
Sexton, who last played in Ireland’s win over New Zealand, got 30 minutes of action and kicked five conversions while Conan scored two tries in the triumph over the Top 14 side.