Ulster and Ireland flanker Chris Henry set to miss number of months after being diagnosed with a 'blocked blood vessel in his brain'

Six Nations-winning flanker has missed Ireland's last two matches with an 'unspecified illness' and the IRFU have confirmed the seriousness of his injury

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Ulster and Ireland have been rocked by the news that flanker Chris Henry will miss “a number of months” after suffering a blocked blood vessel in his brain.

Henry was a notable absentee from Ireland’s 29-15 victory over South Africa on 8 November after he suffered an “unspecified illness”, and he also missed Sunday’s 49-7 walkover win against Georgia.

Having undergone tests, the Irish Rugby Football Union have confirmed that Henry is set to miss a long period of rugby after suffering the small blood blockage.

"Tests have shown he suffered a temporary blockage of a small blood vessel in his brain," said the IRFU in a statement.

"He is at home now and is well but needs further investigation and specialist opinion.”

An original prognosis last week said that Henry was suffering from a sever migraine, but this latest diagnosis is much more serious than initially thought.

His enforced absence robs Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt of one of his regular back-row starters, with Henry starting all five of Ireland’s Six Nations matches during their victorious 2014 campaign. He also played in the two summer Tests against Argentina to take his Ireland caps up to 16, but has not featured in the start of their autumn international campaign.

Henry has shone in the absence of Sean O’Brien, with the Leinster flanker undergoing a second shoulder reconstruction in 10 months that will keep him out of action until April next year.