Jonathan Sexton will go cold into the Six Nations after confirmation on Monday that the out-half will play no part in Leinster's last two Heineken Champions Cup fixtures.
There had been suggestions that the Ireland No.10 could be fit in time to feature in rounds five or six of Europe, at home to Lyon this Sunday and away to Benetton on Saturday week, after suffering a medial ligament injury last month.
That was revealed to be wishful thinking by Leinster senior coach Stuart Lancaster.
“He's making great progress but it's not an injury that you suddenly go from being not injured to fit again in two or three weeks,” said the former England head coach at Leinster's UCD base.
“It takes time to strengthen the ligament, to start running again and everything that goes into being back fit again and playing a robust game like rugby. So it's going to take some time but he has made some good progress but he is not going to be available to us this week.”
And as for next week, in Italy?
“Well, that's unlikely but that's not to say that he is a long way away from playing either. But we have got a Sunday game (this week) and a game again next Saturday. So he would have to be on the training field playing full contact and training on Monday, Tuesday next week and that's not going to happen.”
That's that then.
The sense always was that Sexton would be doing well to make it back for the opening Six Nations tie, at home to Scotland, at the start of February. Lancaster's take only confirms that and there was news on James Ryan too.
The lock, a contender with Sexton for the Ireland armband, was taken off with a calf problem early in the first-half against Connacht on Saturday. He is to be “monitored” this week with a decision on his possible involvement against Lyon to be made in the coming days.
“We'll see, we'll see. It's certainly not a long-term injury by any stretch of the imagination. But he won't be training today and we'll obviously have to make a call by Wednesday really. It's a Sunday game, which gives us a longer lead-in time. We're hopeful but it's not for certain.”
Lancaster made the additional point that Leinster are well served for alternatives with Scott Fardy, Devin Toner, Ross Molony and the youthful but highly-rated Ryan Baird all available for duty. They can afford to err on the side of caution here for a number of reasons here.
The four-time champions have already qualified for the knockout stages of the Champions Cup though they are chasing two more wins in the race for a top seeding spot in the quarter-finals. Lyon sit third in Pool 1 on just seven points and are basically out of contention.