Connacht and Ireland winger Mack Hansen has been ruled out of action for four months due to a shoulder injury.
Hansen suffered the injury in Connacht’s 22-9 win over Munster in the URC on New Year’s Day and has since undergone surgery.
The 25-year-old will miss Ireland’s Six Nations campaign, as Andy Farrell’s side aim to win back-to back Grand Slams.
Since making his debut in 2022, Hansen has become an important part of the Ireland side, scoring nine tries in 21 caps.
He will also miss Connacht’s final group games in the Champions Cup in January.
Connacht head coach Pete Wilkins, who said it is a big blow for Ireland, Connacht and the player himself, said they were surprised there wasn’t further action regarding the clear-out which has sidelined their star player.
“We were surprised there wasn’t at least further scrutiny on the clear-out to be brutally honest. But if the citing officer decides that it is not at least a discussion level of being a possible red card then there is no further we can take it,” said Wilkins.
“It’s disappointing for us to lose Mack for such a period of time. Obviously there will be a knock-on effect to the Irish campaign in the Six Nations as well and most of all disappointing for Mack. He was starting to find some form and rhythm, having been stop-start since the World Cup, so everyone loses out in that sense and I think the fans will miss watching him play as well.
“So it is up to us to fill that gap and obviously other players get a chance to step up.”