Seán O'Brien a doubt for Six Nations following operation

Seán O'Brien is likely to miss at least Ireland's opening Six Nations match against France

Seán O'Brien is likely to miss at least Ireland's opening Six Nations match against France

It was the last bit of news Leinster and Ireland fans would have wanted to hear today - Sean O'Brien has undergone surgery on his troublesome hip.

Leinster have confirmed the flanker has had surgery on a hip injury, which has kept him out since last month's Champions Cup win over Exeter Chiefs.

The surgery nearly certainly rules O'Brien out for Ireland's opening game of the Six Nations against France in Paris on February, and given the nature of the injury so far, it's unclear as to how long it will take for him to get back to full fitness, athough Leinster have said that the aim, at least, is for him to return at some point during the tournament.

O'Brien will nearly definitely miss the opening two rounds against France and Italy but the break between the visit of Conor O'Shea's side to Dublin and Ireland's trip to Cardiff on 24 March may give the Lion time to recover.

Leinster say the target is to have O'Brien back available "during the Six Nations window", which has raised further doubts over whether he'll be fit to play any part during the championship.

One of Ireland's most experienced performers, O'Brien has been capped 51 times by his country.

It's not good news for Joe Schmidt, who already has backrow problems with Jamie Heaslip, Rhys Ruddock and Tommy O'Donnell all out with injuries.

Leo Cullen will likely provide further updates on both players when he speaks to the media later this afternoon.

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