IRELAND and Munster have been rocked by the news that No 8 Denis Leamy is to miss the rest of the season because of a knee injury.
The Cashel man produced a superb performance in Sunday’s victory over Perpignan in the Heineken Cup but sustained the injury in the final minutes.
He had a scan on Monday and underwent an operation in Dublin on Tuesday.
Munster announced yesterday that he will miss the remainder of the season, news that comes as a huge setback for a player who has been sidelined in the past with knee, shoulder, hamstring and ankle problems.
New Zealander Nick Williams should be an obvious replacement but injuries and the failure to find the form that made him a highly respected forward back home have meant he hasn’t even found a spot on the replacements bench and instead he has been playing for Dolphin in the AIB League.
Williams remains in contention, however, with Donnacha Ryan, James Coughlan, Billy Holland and Tommy O’Donnell also in the equation.
“We are all very upset for Denis who is one of the most honest players in the game,” said coach Tony McGahan. “He was outstanding against Perpignan on Sunday and played a major part in Doug Howlett’s bonus point try. Ironically, it was during that play that he sustained the injury.”
Leamy, who turned 28 last month, made his 43rd appearance for Ireland against Fiji in November but an ankle injury picked up in that game kept him out of the clash with South Africa a week later.
His career has been consistently interrupted by similar knocks. Following Heineken Cup glory in 2008, Leamy endured a long lay-off with a shoulder injury. He returned for Munster against the All Blacks in the famous Thomond Park clash in November ‘08 but lasted only 25 minutes before a knock to the shoulder forced him off.
He missed Ireland’s autumn series and upon his return for Munster was unlucky to sustain a serious knee injury against the Scarlets in the Celtic League.
He battled back to fitness in time to play his part in the Grand Slam season with Ireland and his recent form suggested he was all set to challenge Jamie Heaslip hard for the number 8 jersey in the forthcoming Six Nations Championship.
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