Question marks have been raised about Sean O’Brien’s future after it was revealed on Sunday that the Ireland flanker will miss the World Cup this year with a hip injury.
In a career that has been dogged by injuries, which has seen him have over 20 operations, this is yet another problem that will leave him on the sidelines for an extended period of time. While many fans are lamenting the way his international career has ended, and the ramifications of his absence at the World Cup in Japan, some are being realistic about what this latest injury may mean for the 32-year-old.
While his age may suggest that O’Brien has a few more years left in him, he has been playing international rugby for a decade now, and his injuries have taken their toll. Many fans are now questioning whether he will be able to return to rugby again, with retirement becoming a very real possibility.
Already this season O’Brien’s form has been questioned since returning from injury, as he has undeniably failed to reach the impressive heights he has in years before. He has only managed to make 10 appearances for Leinster this past season, and has subsequently struggled to gain any form.
This is a harsh truth, particularly for London Irish who are set to benefit from his services next season, but it is one that is increasingly becoming possible.
This is what the fans have said:
Time to retire, he has only played minutes of rugby instead of full matches while Pete and Josh play on. Well done mate, but time up.
— James Scannell (@Jamesscanner) May 26, 2019
Doubt he’ll play again.
— wayne moss (@mosstradamouse) May 26, 2019
Do you think Leavy will play again? It was a horror injury. I don’t see SOB turning out for London Irish now.
— wayne moss (@mosstradamouse) May 27, 2019
Reckon he should retire? Those injuries are mounting up
— The Culk (@The_Culk) May 26, 2019
He'll probably be lucky to play at a high level again
The man is jinxed
— NH (@HBHoran86) May 26, 2019
He hasn’t had a sustained period of fitness for years. Heading the the premiership won’t help on that front either.
— Mark Laffan (@MLaffan) May 26, 2019
For himself you would think retirement is best option. Not London. He was amazing in his prime.
— manitaka (@manitaka81) May 26, 2019
Sad news on Sean O'Brien missing the WC.Wonder will this injury be the ending of his career? Wishing him well
— Ken O'Grady (@kogrady74) May 26, 2019
While this would be a sad end to one of Ireland’s greats, there is no denying that he has had a glittering career. He has been a member of a Leinster squad that have won four European titles, and an Irish team that have won a Grand Slam and as well as two more Six Nations titles.
He was named European Player of the Year in 2011, in what will probably be remembered as his standout season, capped off with a fine display at the World Cup.
However, since making his Ireland debut in 2009, his 56 caps reflect how many games he has missed due to injury. Had he remained fit, he could well be a centurion now, as he has always been one of the first names on the team sheet.
Unfortunately for him, O’Brien’s career in Ireland, and perhaps altogether, ended with Leinster’s loss to Saracens in the Champions Cup final, which is no way to bow out for one of Ireland’s greats.
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