Home Rugby British and Irish Lions Tour 2017 Sean O’Brien’s Latest Injury Setback Could Be A Worry For The Lions

Sean O’Brien’s Latest Injury Setback Could Be A Worry For The Lions

INPHO/Ryan Byrne

Leinster have been hit with a late withdrawal from Friday’s Pro12 semi-final, as Sean O’Brien has had to be left out through injury.

The Ireland and Lions flanker, who was initially named on the bench for Friday’s clash with Scarlets at the RDS,  has since been omitted from the 23 completely by head coach Leo Cullen – though the injury is to his calf this time, as opposed to the hamstring issue that had been troubling him in recent weeks.

The language used in Leinster’s statement suggests that Cullen left O’Brien out as a precautionary measure, but it does add to the pressure on the the 30-year-old to prove his fitness to Warren Gatland – especially given the fact that he only returned to full training on Monday. O’Brien also missed Leinster’s Champions Cup defeat to Clermont last month with a hamstring issue, while his those same concerns led him being sidelined for a large part of 2016.

INPHO/Ryan Byrne

While this latest setback could rule him out of the Pro12 final next weekend (assuming the province can navigate past Scarlets on Friday), of somewhat greater significance is the chance (however slight right now) that it could have an impact on his place in the Lions squad. He had a calf issue at the turn of the year that Leo Cullen described as “slow to heal” and put his participation in the Six Nations in doubt, though there is no indication as yet that this injury will be as troublesome.

While it would still be a massive surprise if O’Brien needed to be withdrawn from the 41-man panel, time is running out to impress Gatland and stake a claim for a starting spot for the main tests against the All Blacks, with the first warm-up match against the Barbarians just over two weeks away.

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About Simon O'Keeffe

Simon O'Keeffe
Simon is a football writer here at Pundit Arena. You can contact him at [email protected], or through the Twitter link below

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