Paul O’Connell is a major doubt for Ireland’s summer tour to New Zealand after the Munster captain was ruled out for the next four to six weeks due to a knee injury.
Munster’s hopes of retaining their Celtic League title were immediately hit by the news with both O’Connell and Damien Varley ruled out of this Friday’s RaboDirect PRO12 semi-final with Ospreys in Swansea.
O’Connell injured his left knee last Saturday night at Thomond Park against Ulster and will see a specialist today with the expectation that he will be sidelined for four to six weeks. Hooker Varley’s ankle sprain, suffered in the same game, is expected to heal in time for the RaboDirect Pro12 final on May 26, should Munster win on Friday. Even better news for the province is that Ronan O’Gara is expected to be named in the Munster squad tonight having been out of action with a leg injury sustained in the Heineken Cup quarter-final defeat to Ulster.
Nigel Owens will referee his third Heineken Cup final when he takes charge of the showpiece between Leinster and Ulster at Twickenham Stadium on Saturday, May 19.
The experienced Welsh official refereed the 2008 and 2009 finals won by Munster and Leinster respectively, and the eagerly anticipated all-Irish clash will be his 70th game in European club tournaments.
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