Published Tuesday, 30 October 2012
Rory Best and Brian O'Driscoll are out. (© Getty)
The IRFU confirmed on Tuesday that Best will miss the games against South Africa, Fiji and Argentina with a neck sprain.
Meanwhile O'Driscoll is also unavailable for the series as he will need surgery on an ankle injury he picked up while playing for Leinster at the weekend.
It is bad news for the 33-year-old team leader who is in the final year of his contract with the Irish Rugby Football Union, with his future beyond next summer undecided.
"It's a big blow to the two lads that have been captaining the side along with Paul [O'Connell] over the last number of years down like that, but that's what it is," explained coach Declan Kidney.
"There's people in the country have to put up with worse and it's time now for everybody to put their shoulder to the wheel and hopefully as much support in behind us as possible because we need it," he said.
Brian O'Driscoll's surgery is scheduled for Wednesday, and recovery time is expected to be between eight and 12 weeks. But Kidney said he could be back in time for the Six Nations.
"I don't want to put pressure on Brian but he's usually on the shorter side of that so if he manages to get in a few games towards the latter stages of the Heineken Cup and then to be ready for the Six Nations. So we wish him well and Godspeed to get a quick recovery," he added.
The injury creates another problem for Kidney, who is already stretched by the loss of Rob Kearney to a back problem, and will need to re-examine his plans for the backline.
Best sprained his neck ligaments playing the Dragons and faces up to six weeks of rehabilitation before his condition is reassessed.