Ireland rugby coach Declan Kidney has been hit with a double devastating blow after captain Paul O’Connell and scrum-half Conor Murray were ruled out for the rest of the international season.
Both players picked up knee injuries in Sunday’s draw with France in Paris but O’Connell’s injury only came to light on Monday.
Scans have confirmed that the Munster duo will be out for up to a month and may struggle to make the Heineken Cup quarter-final against Ulster in April.
O’Connell played the full 80 minutes against France but his scan revealed damage to his medial collateral ligament.
Like Murray, he will now the next two Ireland games against Scotland, this weekend, and England on St Patrick’s Day.
Murray has suffered bone brusing in the joint but no significant damage to the ligaments.
Munster scrum-half Tomás O'Leary and Connacht forward Mike McCarthy have been added to the squad as cover.