O'Donnell desperate to hit ground running on return
Player of the year Tommy O'Donnell says he can't wait to get back on the pitch after this week committing his future to Munster.
The Tipperary man's contract extension is a big boost to the province and O'Donnell, battling hard to recover from a knee injury which has sidelined him since September, is hopeful he will soon be back in action.
O'Donnell (26) this week penned a two-year contract extension with Munster and the IRFU that will come into effect from July 2014. His impact has been curtailed so far this season because of a knee injury sustained in just his second game against Zebre.
But the big flanker has already returned to some light contact work and is working on his fitness ahead of a playing comeback.
"Rehab is going very well at the moment. I have really started back running now, so it is all about getting back a bit of conditioning and fitness. Hopefully, I'll be back sometime in December, depending on how my fitness progresses," O'Donnell said.
"I have done some slight contact. We are building it up slowly. It's one of those things that you have to phase yourself back into it and take it nice and easy.
"The latter stages of the Heineken Cup group stages are probably a realistic target, but it's up to the management whether they want to put me in or not, because they are going to be high-intensity matches.
"Whether they want to put you back into that situation, whether they feel I'm up to it or not, it'll be their call. I'm just going to try and get my body right and be there ready with my hand up, saying, 'I'm fit, if you want to pick me, pick me'."
Last season was particularly memorable for O'Donnell, who made 21 appearances and scored four tries for Munster, before making his Irish debut on the summer tour to North America to underline his potential.
But right now he is just keen to return to action for Munster. "This is where I want to be and I enjoy playing my rugby here," he said.
"I know it hasn't been the best of starts to the season for me with injury, but like last year, I just want to come back fighting and push on to the next level again."