Flannery injury blow for Ireland

CHAMPIONS Ireland have been dealt a massive blow ahead their defence of their Six Nations campaign with the news that Jerry Flannery may miss out with an Achilles injury.

Hooker Flannery sat out Munster’s Heineken Cup win over Perpignan on Friday and is now expected to undergo exploratory surgery this week to confirm a three-month lay-off.

If he is ruled out, it would leave coach Declan Kidney with a huge selection dilemma with Ulster’s Rory Best ruled out for the rest of the season with a neck injury.

This means Connacht rookie Sean Cronin, who only earned his first cap in November, is the next likely choice.

Ireland open the defence of their Six Nations title against Italy at Croke Park on 6 February before they make the trip to play France a week later.