With no date set for his return, Jamie Heaslip's frustrating battle with an serious back injury looks set to continue into 2018 as he may yet require further surgery.
After the Leinster man was withdrawn from the Ireland squad during the warm-up before the Six Nations meeting with England back in March, it wasn't until May that we heard any information regarding the injury, and even then Heaslip admitted that he didn't know how it happened or how long he would be out for.
Over the summer it was suggested that Heaslip would miss the start of the Pro 14 campaign, but he was back in training and looking to be making forward strides until news of a setback emerged. Now, as the veteran number eight has been left out of Leo Cullen's European squad, it seems as though there is no date on his potential return.
Speaking to the media ahead of his side's meeting with Edinburgh [via Independent.ie], Cullen revealed that Heaslip is considering having further surgery.
I'm not so sure. It will depend if he has to go for another procedure or not. Okay so, he has to weight that up with the surgeon and the specialist that he's seeing.
That will be the decision he'll have to come to himself and with the help of the medics as well. So he had a disc problem with his back, you have a disk leak when you have a microdiscectomy I think they call it now.
Cullen also revealed that he went through a similar injury where his back became injured without him realising exactly how, and called for patients regarding Heaslip's comeback.
We would have loved to have seen Jamie maybe back now, we thought originally the surgery would be straight-forward, that's what we would have hoped for, but it hasn't been as straight-forward as we would have liked.
I was in this situation whereas I didn't have surgery at the time, I made my way back and still feel the effects of it now 12 years later.
So that's just the nature of the injury and everyone just needs to be patient and understand it's a complicated injury that Jamie has. I remember at the time sitting down and I went in to see someone about the injury and it was quite a dark picture that was painted, but then I went on a course, a rehab programme, and I was back in 12 weeks.
While Jack Conan has done an outstanding job in Heaslip's place, Leo Cullen will want the experience of Heaslip for the second half of the season if at all possible, and hopefully he is able to return to action soon without suffering any more setbacks.