Irish rugby's injury hoodoo worsened yesterday when it was revealed that their star centre, Brian O'Driscoll, is likely to be out for up to six weeks with the hamstring injury he suffered in Leinster's 23-22 defeat by Sale at Lansdowne Road on Friday night.
O'Driscoll, expected to take over the reins from the retired Keith Wood as Ireland's captain for this season's Six Nations' Championship, might well miss the start of the tournament against France in Paris on Saturday 14 February.
Benetton Treviso chalked up Italy's first success of the current Heineken Cup campaign yesterday with a spirited 42-33 home win over Bourgoin in Pool Five. The victory was Treviso's first over French opponents and also gave them a bonus point.
Their former Newcastle full-back, Stuart Legg, kicked 17 points and went over for the fifth try. Treviso's other scorers were Enrico Pavanello, Sergio Parisse, Brendan Williams and Gonzalo Canale. Bourgoin, now bottom of the pool, also claimed a bonus point for touchdowns by Anthony Forest, Kevin Zhakata, Pierre Raschi, Mickaël Bourguignon and a penalty try.
Mark van Gisbergen misses Wasps' Pool Six meeting with Celtic Warriors at Wycombe's Causeway Stadium this afternoon because he is best man at a friend's wedding in New Zealand. England World Cup hero Josh Lewsey switches to full-back for the pool leaders and former Scotland international Kenny Logan comes in on the wing.
Struggling Leicester, European champions in 2001 and 2002, welcome back former All Blacks centre Daryl Gibson and England hooker Dorian West for today's Pool One visit to Ulster, who are unbeaten on home soil in their last eight Heineken Cup games.
Connacht will take a healthy first-leg lead to France next weekend in the second round of the Parker Pen Challenge Cup after beating Pau 29-7 yesterday in Galway with No 8 John O'Sullivan crossing twice.
Scotland wing Simon Danielli will line up at full-back for the injury-stricken Zurich Premiership leaders, Bath, in today's Parker Pen game away to Colomiers. Newcastle, at home to Montferrand, are again without England fly-half Jonny Wilkinson while the young wing Michael Stephenson has a dislocated elbow. Dave Walder and Ben Gollings are their replacements. London Irish, who host Narbonne at the Madejski Stadium, are boosted by the swift recovery of their captain, Ryan Strudwick, from shoulder trouble.