LEINSTER assistant coach Richie Murphy admitted it "would be fair to say" Brian O'Driscoll is in better condition right now than he was all last season.
"He is in good shape. He has come through the games he has played in with no problems and he has taken some big collisions. It hasn't troubled him," said Murphy.
"He has only played three games and has done very well in all of them.
"He has got a run of games under his belt. It is a case of making sure he is ready for the games when they come along, that he is fresh going into them."
There must be a temptation to shelve the first-team players for Friday night's PRO12 League encounter with fellow Heineken Cup semi-finalists Edinburgh at The RDS.
"We won't be wrapping people in cotton wool because of the fact that if we lose someone, we have someone else to step in," returned Murphy.
"You can't wrap them all up. We have to get through another game this weekend. Some of the guys will be using that and some will be rested. It is on an individual basis.
"The management of players is key at this time of the season in order to keep everyone fresh. We're lucky, in a sense, in that our league position will allow us to do that."
Murphy suffers from no illusions as to how difficult it is going to be to qualify for their third Heineken Cup final in four years against Clermont-Auvergne in Bordeaux.
"We know that is going to be a massive ask, to go there and win in a couple of weeks. We will look forward to that challenge," he said.
"We are an attack-minded team. But, you have to play both sides of the ball. The best teams are rounded like that.
"We don't take one above the other. We work equally on both our defence and our attack.
"In the second half, we let Cardiff have 70 per cent of possession and 60 per cent of territory. If you had done that in Bordeaux, you would be in serious trouble. There is no way you would get out of there with a win.
"Our defence was very good at the weekend. Not conceding a try against Cardiff, or against Munster the week before, was something we would be quite happy with.
"Although things went reasonably well for us at the weekend, there is still plenty of things to pick out of that game on what we need to do to improve."