British & Irish Lions
O'Leary ruled out of Lions tour
April 25, 2009
O'Leary's Lions dream has been ended just days after being named in the 37-man squad © Getty Images
Munster scrum-half Tomas O'Leary has been ruled out of the Lions tour to South Africa after breaking his ankle against Scarlets in their Magners League clash on Friday night.
The Irish Grand Slam winner started four of Ireland's Six Nations matches this season and gained Lions selection alongside fellow number nines Mike Phillips and Harry Ellis. But barely 96 hours after announcing his 37-man squad, Lions head coach Ian McGeechan must summon an injury replacement.
However, McGeechan admitted it could be two weeks before he calls up another player with the Heineken Cup and Guinness Premiership semi-finals set to provide further pointers in terms of form and fitness.
"I won't rush in naming a replacement. It was a phone call I didn't want last night," he said. "I'm obviously desperately disappointed for the player but we'll take our time and keep our eye on things.
"I'm not looking to name a replacement for 10 to 14 days. There's some rugby to watch and I'll take my time."
Players in the frame will include Scotland captain Mike Blair, his national squad colleague Chris Cusiter, Wales' Dwayne Peel and England international Danny Care. But O'Leary's fellow Munster star Peter Stringer also has his admirers and might attract McGeechan's attention.
O'Leary was carried off on a stretcher in the early stages at Musgrave Park just after he had set up Munster's opening try. He was taken to Cork University Hospital, where the injury was confirmed, and will be reassessed later today by a specialist.
Munster coach Tony McGahan said, "It goes without saying that we are very disappointed to lose a player of Tomas's stature at this crucial stage of the season, even more particularly so, from his own personal point of view, given that he had just been selected to tour with the Lions, and our thoughts are with him in that regard."
O'Leary was among a record-equalling contingent of eight Munster players selected for a trip that starts against a Royal XV in Rustenburg on May 30.