By Adam Ellis
Leinster and Ireland centre Garry Ringrose has been ruled out for six weeks after limping off with an ankle injury during the 38-7 victory over Ulster.
The 22-year-old will now miss the last two remaining Champions Cup ties for Leinster and Ireland’s Six Nations clashes against France and Italy.
He is the third Leinster player to be struck down by a ‘high ankle sprain’, also known as Syndesmosis, in recent weeks after Isa Nacewa and Josh van der Flier were sidelined by the same injury before Christmas.
Leo Cullen’s side have enjoyed a perfect start to the Champions Cup, winning all four games in a pool featuring Top 14 leaders Montpellier, Premiership champions Exeter and in form PRO14 outfit Glasgow Warriors, but will be without their star centre with their qualification all but secured.
With Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt hoping to end England’s hopes at three consecutive Six Nations titles, Ringrose’s injury is likely to pave the way for Connacht’s Bundee Aki to build upon his impressive debut against South Africa last November.
Aki set the tone for Ireland’s staunch defence to bully South Africa out of the game by topping the tackle count in a 38-3 win at the Aviva Stadium, and is likely to partner club team-mate Robbie Henshaw for the national side.