Munster’s Heineken Champions Cup hopes, as well as Andy Farrell’s first Six Nations campaign in charge of Ireland, have been thrown into disarray after Joey Carbery was ruled out with a wrist ligament injury which will require surgery.
Munster confirmed last night that Carbery suffered the injury in his first start for the province this season when they were defeated by Ulster in Belfast on Friday night.
There was no mention of the injury to Carbery in a medical update issued by Munster at 6.14pm last night, but confirmation was forthcoming an hour and a half later after news of the problem emerged online.
“Following on from the earlier squad update, the medical department have confirmed that Joey Carbery underwent a scan for a wrist injury sustained against Ulster on Friday night at the Kingspan,” said the statement.
“It has been confirmed the out-half sustained a wrist ligament injury and requires surgery, ruling him out for the immediate future.”
New Ireland coach Farrell will also be closely monitoring the situation, not least given the uncertainty about Johnny Sexton’s injury, but it is highly unlikely that injury-stricken Carbery will return in time for the opening game against Scotland in less than four weeks’ time.
Any hope that Leinster star Sexton may get some game time before the Six Nations were yesterday dismissed by Leinster senior coach Stuart Lancaster.
Sexton injured his medial ligament during Leinster’s defeat of Northampton Saints in Franklin’s Gardens on December 8 and Leinster head coach Leo Cullen was frank from the off in suggesting that Sexton would not play again until February.
Reports of the player ‘progressing well’ had prompted speculation that he could play some part in the forthcoming Heineken Champions Cup games, at home to Lyon on Sunday or away to Benetton six days later, but Lancaster gave the lie to that yesterday.
“He’s making good progress, but that would be a tremendous turnaround from an MCL injury,” said Lancaster. “He’s making really good progress and everyone’s optimistic about how he’s going to go over the next couple of weeks.”
The player’s training load is to be upped this week, but Lancaster said that there was no way Sexton would be in a position to take part in full-contact sessions in even seven days’ time. The question now is whether he will be ready for Scotland’s visit to the Aviva at the start of February.
Eight weeks will have elapsed without a game under his belt by that point, so he will be returning cold to the championship one way or another. Sexton is favourite to be Ireland captain under new head coach Andy Farrell, but James Ryan is another believed to be in the hunt.
Ryan came off at the start of the second quarter on Saturday night as Leinster were entertaining Connacht — a calf injury was the official verdict. Leinster have enough Pool 1 points and players in reserve to get by if there is any doubt whatsoever about the talented Dubliner.
“We’ll see, we’ll see,” said Lancaster. “It’s certainly not a long-term injury by any stretch of the imagination. But he won’t be training (yesterday) 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.”
Meanwhile, Munster are also sweating on the fitness of Andrew Conway for Sunday’s clash in Paris, having come off at half time in Belfast with a neck injury, while lock Fineen Wycherley failed a HIA in that game and will follow return-to-play protocol.
Tommy O’Donnell is still recovering from the hamstring injury he picked up against Leinster, while hooker Niall Scannell has returned to training after suffering cramp against Ulster.
Munster, who go into Sunday’s test against Racing 92 with just two wins from their last seven games, report that hookers Kevin O’Byrne and Rhys Marshall, along with winger Darren Sweetnam, will all be reintroduced to training this week