Ireland suffer major injury blow with key figure ruled out of Six Nations

Mack Hansen will miss the Six Nations  (PA Wire)
Mack Hansen will miss the Six Nations (PA Wire)

Ireland have suffered a major injury blow ahead of the Six Nations with Mack Hansen ruled out of the campaign after undergoing shoulder surgery.

Wing Hansen has established himself as a key figure under Andy Farrell and started four games at the World Cup, including the quarter-final defeat to New Zealand.

The 25-year-old dislocated his shoulder during Connacht’s United Rugby Championship win against Munster, and the club have confirmed that he faces three or four months on the sidelines.

It leaves head coach Farrell facing something of a wing crisis with less than a month until defending champions Ireland open their Six Nations against France in Marseille.

Leinster’s James Lowe, Farrell’s regular starter on the left, has not played since the end of the World Cup due to a foot problem. The versatile Jimmy O’Brien has also been ruled out for “a number of months” with a neck injury.

Keith Earls confirmed his retirement after the tournament in France, while fellow Munsterman Andrew Conway has also bowed out of the sport recently.

James Lowe is also an injury doubt for the Six Nations (PA Wire)
James Lowe is also an injury doubt for the Six Nations (PA Wire)

Farrell, who will be confirmed as head coach of the British and Irish Lions for the 2025 tour of Australia this week, is expected to name his Ireland squad in the middle of the month.

While Lowe could yet be available, Ulster’s Jacob Stockdale and Calvin Nash of Munster have both caught the eye in the URC and will hope to press for a starting place, with Rob Baloucoune another potential inclusion in the back three.

Farrell must also select successors to the retired Johnny Sexton as captain and at fly half, with James Ryan, Peter O’Mahony, Iain Henderson and Garry Ringrose candidates to become skipper.