O'Driscoll set to miss six months
November 7, 2011
Leinster look set to be without O'Driscoll for six months © Getty Images
Leinster have confirmed that inspirational centre Brian O'Driscoll will undergo surgery on his shoulder and is expected to be out for six months.
The Irish centre is struggling with a trapped nerve and despite Leinster boss Joe Schmidt harboring some hope that O'Driscoll would be able to continue without going under the surgeon's knife, the 32-year-old looks set to miss the majority of the Heineken Cup champions' campaign.
And Leinster will kick-off their campaign without O'Driscoll against Montpellier in the Stade de la Mosson on Friday evening. Leinster, who have won two of the last three finals, are bidding to join Toulouse by becoming only the second club to win more than two of European club rugby's most coveted titles as the 24 clubs have Twickenham Stadium and the 2012 final on May 19 in their sights.
"It will be a really tough opener in Montpellier," said Leinster captain Leo Cullen. "They had an unbelievable home record in the Top 14 last year and they were within 10-15 minutes of beating Toulouse in the French final last season and then only lost by less than a score.
"They are going to be a very tough proposition and everyone in our Pool has strong home records. It is almost a given that in the Heineken Cup you have to win your home games so you ask yourself where you are going to pick up an away win. It is tough to see where that can come from though we will have an opportunity straight away against Montpellier."
Only Leicester Tigers have made a successful defence of their Heineken Cup crown, winning back-to-back finals in 2001 and 2002, and to make it three titles head coach Schmidt's team are going to have to match that Leicester feat. "Winning the Heineken Cup in 2009 and again in 2011 were both very enjoyable times," said Cullen. "Perhaps the first time it was more a case of relief, as I had been part of Leinster teams who had for a number of years disappointed on the big day.
"The second time, in Cardiff with the Millennium Stadium roof closed, the atmosphere in the stadium on the day was phenomenal. What also stays with you is the nature of the game, how it looked as if it was going to be pretty embarrassing for us going into half time at 22-6 behind with Northampton looking to run away with the game. To turn it around in the manner we did I think was unbelievable and the party atmosphere in the stadium afterwards was unforgettable.
"The scrum was a massive element of the final, we knew they had a lot of power in their front row but they still managed to catch us a bit cold in the first half and score a couple of tries from scrums. The big turning point came when we got a bit of a push on, got a penalty and that got us back in front. It certainly was a game of scrums and thankfully we had the slightly fresher legs."
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