Brian O'Driscoll lasted 57 minutes on his return to action with Leinster for the first time this season as the PRO12 League leaders went down to a shock 23-22 defeat by the Ospreys at the RDS last night.
"I thought Brian looked very sharp for a player who hasn't played for as long as he has. As time goes on, he will build towards more of an 80-minute performance," said coach Joe Schmidt. O'Driscoll's first touch was taken cutting back against the grain, beating three defenders on the angle before a slide-door pass was knocked on for a Leinster scrum.
The second was taken in a blur into the open arms of flanker Tom Smith for a hammer hit. He bounced up and got back into position.
The first of the three older warhorses to be called ashore was All Black Brad Thorn in the 54th minute. Not bad for a man who hadn't played competitively since February 4, outside a single-half hit-out for Leinster 'A' against Connacht last Wednesday week.
Schmidt said captain Leo Cullen "soldiered" on right to the end of his first match since his last in January and a subsequent operation on his Achilles tendon.