By Tadhg Peavoy
Leinster head coach Matt O’Connor, speaking at the team's UCD HQ ahead of their Pro12 clash with Munster at the weekend, has said that an infection to Sean O’Brien’s shoulder following initial reconstruction was what caused the necessity of a second operation.
O'Brien will be sidelined for six months and will miss the Six Nations as a result of the setback.
“Sean is in the UK at the moment. If all things go according to plan, he’ll probably have shoulder reconstruction tomorrow,” said O’Connor.
“There’s a little bit of complication due to the infection. They have to go in and do that reconstruction of his shoulder."
O'Connor also explained why O'Brien will be laid low for so long, and that the main reason for the recovery time was the operation, not necessarily mobility issues with the joint.
He said: “The fact that it’s the same reconstruction on the same shoulder, that’s [why it's such a long] time-frame.
“It’s a nightmare. The positive thing is that the ankle procedure he just had is a lot more minor and it will give him time to recover from that.
“The shoulder will be as good as new. It’s part and parcel of what we do.
“He was [down] but he’s very comfortable with the decision. There are upsides. There are opportunities for him to get it right and hopefully have many seasons at the top level for us.
“Our medical team are very comfortable that he will come back fully fit" - Matt O'Connor
“Every time you have surgery you run that risk [of complications]. But our medical team are very comfortable that he will come back fully fit.
“There’s a joint where there is a lot of scar tissue, a lot of infection, a lot of disruption so we have to make sure it’s right.”
Looking ahead to the clash with Munster this weekend, O’Connor was keen to emphasise that his preparations were key and that they do not focus overly on what the opposition is planning. He also believes that Munster head coach Anthony Foley is likely to be doing the same.
“I’m not really that interested in what Axel (Foley) is doing. It’s about what we’re doing,” said O’Connor.
“It’s about getting your processes right. The things that drive our environment. And I’m sure that’s the thing that Axel is driving down there this week.”
As for the rivalry between the two teams, O’Connor feels the level of intensity and rivalry the inter-pro brings is crucial to both teams as they strive to improve standards.
He said: “It’s a very long tradition. The rivalry that’s gone on between the provinces is what drives them. It’s bragging rights and it’s the bigger picture with selection for Ireland, and they add to the occasion that is Saturday night.
“The intensity has gone up dramatically [in training] and it’s a perfect lead in to Europe [the upcoming Champions Cup fixtures].”
As for second row Kane Douglas, who made his debut for Leinster in the Pro12 against Cardiff last week, O’Connor is extremely pleased with his immediate impact.
“I thought he was very good for a guy coming in first time out last week and I think he’ll give us a lot over the season.”