O’Connell reveals ‘potions and lotions’ bid to avoid surgery
PAUL O'CONNELL experimented with a mixture of potions, lotions and even magnets in an effort to correct his bulging disc before opting for surgery.
The Munster and Ireland second-row has confirmed that his surgery 11 days ago was a success and he aims to be back playing in April, when he hopes Munster will be contesting a Heineken Cup quarter-final.
Before he underwent back surgery for the second time in his career, though, he exhausted other avenues of rehabilitation, conventional and otherwise.
"Everyone has a story about a back injury in their family," said O'Connell. "I've had everything offered to me from magnets to various drinks to every kind of a 'cure' for it. It's nice that people are concerned but sometimes that can add to the frustration of not playing."
And to emphasise just how determined he was to find a cure to his physical ailment O'Connell revealed he resorted to using the magnets: "I actually did try that. But I took them off after a day!"
O'Connell (right) acknowledged that his chances of being selected for the Lions tour will be severely hampered by missing the Six Nations, although he didn't rule out possibly playing some part in that competition.
"If I was back for some part of the Six Nations it would be a bonus, but I don't think it's going to happen. It's looking like sometime in April for a return, and hopefully in early April. What is positive is that playing again is not going to be an issue."
Warren Gatland is set to name his Lions squad soon after the Heineken Cup quarter-finals, when O'Connell should be back in action.
O'Connell isn't holding out much hope publicly of making a third successive tour, though.
"You never rule it out but it is going to be very difficult," he said. "You would imagine the Lions squad is going to be picked on the Six Nations, so it is going to be very difficult to make it on that trip. I've just got to get playing and see what happens and try to get on some tour in the summer, be it with Ireland or the Lions."
It is sensible of O'Connell to be modest about his prospects, and no surprise. Despite his distinction and his huge reputation on the international scene he remains a quiet and reserved individual, not at all boastful of his achievements.
The fact is, however, that a fit O'Connell is the equal of any lock in the world. And if he can prove he is fit before Gatland names his squad, then the coach will surely be very tempted to include him.
There is ample time for O'Connell to further sharpen his fitness and build up to the level he previously scaled between April and the first match on tour, which is a game against the Barbarians on June 1.