Important fitness update on Sean O'Brien after latest match-day squad withdrawal
This is not the first time this season that O'Brien has been pulled from the fray.
Leinster Rugby confirmed, earlier this afternoon, that Sean O'Brien will take no part in their Guinness PRO12 semi-final clash against Scarlets at The RDS.
The flanker has once again been hampered by calf issues and will miss the final four clash against a Welsh team coming into the fixture in good form. Part of the Leinster Rugby injury update reads:
"[Head coach] Leo Cullen confirmed that O'Brien is suffering from a tightness in his calf and a decision has been taken not to risk the injury further."
O'Brien has played only eight times for Leinster this season and only once - the Champions Cup quarter final against Wasps - since mid January. He did feature in all five Six Nations games but has been caught up with knocks and niggles since.
Back in November, O'Brien was set to feature against Australia only to miss out on game-day due to a tight hamstring. The calf has kept him out this time, as it did before Leinster's Champions Cup pool fixtures in January.
Understandably, there is a concern that O'Brien's absence from action could have an adverse affect on his participation in the upcoming British & Irish Lions tour to New Zealand. The Carlow native only secured his place in Warren Gatland's squad after impressing in the Champions Cup victory over Wasps.
SportsJOE understands that, while frustrating in the extreme, O'Brien's latest hold-up is just that. The calf tightened up during Leinster's final training run, hence his being named on the bench and not in the starting XV.
Were it not for the packed schedule of games in the weeks ahead, and Leinster's back row strength-in-depth, O'Brien could have laced up his boots for this evening's game.
Instead, sense has prevailed and O'Brien will have to rest up and watch the game from the stands. Leinster have not gone for a like-for-like replacement, with outhalf Ross Byrne taking his spot on the bench.
Episode 28 of The Hard Yards rugby podcast features Ronan O'Gara, Tommy Bowe, James Downey and Munster outhalf Ian Keatley.
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