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Luke McGrath To Miss Six Nations With Knee Injury

Luke McGrath To Miss Six Nations With Knee Injury

Luke McGrath is set to miss Ireland’s entire GUINNESS Six Nations campaign after his injury during the second half of Leinster’s Heineken Champions Cup win over Toulouse was confirmed as knee ligament damage. The scrum half has been ruled out for up to eight weeks.

Leinster scrum coach John Fogarty spoke to the media as preparations began for the province’s final round trip to Wasps next Sunday. While acknowledging that Luke McGrath’s injury was not as serious as first feared, he said it was ‘very unfortunate for him’.

“It’s very unfortunate for Luke, for us, for the national side to lose someone of his calibre. He did some damage to a ligament in his knee,” explained Fogarty. “We’re lucky in that we’ve got Jamison (Gibson-Park), Hugh (O’Sullivan) and Patrick (Patterson), so we’re moving on. We have to plan for a big game against Wasps.

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“Luke is a very upbeat guy, a very positive guy, so he’s already focusing on having a good day one done. He’s focusing forward. It’s eight weeks, it’s not the end of the world. He’ll get an opportunity to get himself right and there’s a lot of rugby left in this season, a lot of rugby.

“That’s what he’s going to focus on, get back and get ready for quarter-finals rugby in Europe and a tough run-in in the PRO14.”

Gibson-Park is set to join Ross Byrne at half-back at the Ricoh Arena, with Byrne continuing in the number 10 jersey as Jonathan Sexton (knee) will not be rushed back. Fogarty confirmed that the reigning World Rugby Player of the Year is close to returning.

“Johnny has been rehabbing a tendon in his knee and the week’s not long enough, he just ran out of time. He’s not far off at all but unfortunately for us he’s run out of time. We’ve made the decision, so Ross is there to cover.

“For Johnny, I don’t see it being a huge issue for him going forward. He just needs to be in the right space physically so he can perform. That’s our focus here, we want our players to be in the best physical condition so they can perform for us and for the national team. Johnny will get himself right and will be back.”

Meanwhile, on a positive note for Leo Cullen’s men, Devin Toner, Sean O’Brien and Robbie Henshaw are back in full training this week. Rob Kearney and Dan Leavy, who also missed the Toulouse game, will undergo further assessment on their quad and calf injuries respectively, while Fergus McFadden will return to some rugby training this week.

Fogarty commented: “As usual, Sean (O’Brien) is firing and ready to go. He’s physically good and that’s a real positive. Sometimes it takes longer to get guys right and it took enough time with him (in his recovery from a broken arm). He’s physically very, very good and mentally Sean is always incredibly good.

“He’s a very, very competitive person, as everyone knows. He has fitted in at training, he’s adding value in everything he’s doing. We’re lucky with Robbie, Devin and Dan, we’re getting quite a lot of bodies back. While Lukey and Johnny are missing, we’re very lucky to be able to get Robbie back, Devin, Dan and Sean.”