Ireland will miss the services of Josh van der Flier for the rest of the Six Nations campaign after the Leinster flanker sustained a knee ligament injury.
The 24-year-old sustained the blow during the 36th minute of the game against France which Ireland went on to win by 13-15 riding on a last-gasp drop goal from Johnny Sexton.
The injury to van der Flier is also a significant setback for Leinster as he is set to miss the remainder of the season in the European Champions Cup and Pro 14 as well.
Apart from van der Flier, his Leinster team-mates Sean O'Brien and Rhys Ruddock are also recovering from their respective injuries.
Asked how big a blow Van der Flier’s loss will prove to Ireland, CJ Stander said: “I think massive. He’s a tough player, a physical player, he always pitches up, not just in games but in training, he lifts the energy of the whole squad and he’s been around the players since coming in as a young fella and impressed all of us. “At this level now, he’s playing well week in, week out, especially in the back-row, he’s going to be a big loss.
“At this level now, he’s playing well week in, week out, especially in the back-row, he’s going to be a big loss.
“There are a lot of guys pushing for a jersey there, but he’s still going to be missed. Hopefully he gets sorted quite quick.”
Meanwhile, Dan Leavy, who replaced van der Flier during the game against France is likely to start for Joe Schmidt's side for the game against Italy to be played at Aviva Stadium on Saturday.
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