Munster flanker Alan Quinlan has backed provincial team-mate Denis Leamy to bounce back in typical fashion despite being ruled out of action for the remainder of the season.
Leamy underwent surgery last month after a knee injury sustained in the stunning European win at Perpignan brought his current campaign to an agonizingly premature end.
Fellow back row star Quinlan has huge sympathy for his injured colleague but he says the Leamy’s character will see him return stronger than ever.
"Denis was very down about it and our hearts go out to him. We took a few steps forwards that day and Denis was a big influence,” said Quinlan.
"But knowing him as I do, I believe he will come back from the injury. He is still a young man and has a huge amount to offer.
"He will now have a chance to allow the knee to come right and he will be back next season as a massive player for us and for Ireland.”
Quinlan readily admits that the news of Leamy’s injury was a massive blow to everyone at Munster as they look to retain their Magners League crown and regain the Heineken Cup.
Tony McGahan’s men currently lie fourth in the Magners League table and are in pole position to qualify for the knockout stages of European competition.
And while achieving both those targets will undoubtedly be harder without Leamy’s contribution, those goals remain the same for Quinlan and co.
“He is an international quality player and any team who suffers the loss of such a player is bound to feel the loss,” added Quinlan.
"His influence in the team is massive. He doesn’t talk a lot but his actions do the talking for him.
"We were all delighted for him that he produced such a fantastic performance against Perpignan. It was a disappointing and difficult injury for him to suffer and all the more so that it happened in the last phase of play in a game in which he shone.
“His loss is huge but we have to adapt now and somebody else is going to get his chance.
“The next few weeks will define our season. It’s important for us to go on and win something for Denis."