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Paul playing a waiting game

PAUL O'CONNELL looks set to miss out on one or more of Ireland's November internationals with a Grade-1 calf tear.

He is not able to say for certain when he will be let off the leash: "It's hard to know," he said. "It's something similar to what Brian (O'Driscoll) has. His took three-and-a-half weeks, and I'm hopeful it won't take that long, but it can be a bit of a guessing game, so hopefully I'll be back into training next week.

"It was a little bit sore after the Gloucester game. I thought it was nothing too serious and I warmed up against Glasgow and about five minutes into it realised I wasn't right.

"So I pulled out of that and I got a scan on Saturday morning and there's a small bit of bruising in it, a small tear as well."

O'Connell is motivated by the excitement of going into combat against three southern hemisphere countries, Samoa, Australia and New Zealand.

"It's going to be a really tough, but I think we're going to find out a lot about ourselves and improve over the three weeks," he said. "Samoa in the first Test. I think they have the French president's XV and Georgia as their only other games. So our game is their only game against a tier-one nation and I think they're going to target that," he said.

He described the challenge of beating New Zealand for the first time as "incredible" given the All Blacks' current form.

Meanwhile, O'Connell wants to finish out his stellar career as a one-club man. "I think if you mention France in any interview in any sentence it becomes a big topic, but I hope I'll finish my career with Munster."