Thursday 18 January 2018

Another injury would have broken me, admits Reds talisman

David Kelly

David Kelly

Paul O'Connell said another injury would have "broken him" after emerging unscathed from his latest comeback with his sights firmly set on Munster's Heineken Cup quarter-final clash against Harlequins next month.

O'Connell played 40 minutes of the Munster 'A' victory over Leinster 'A' in Limerick yesterday and reported no adverse reaction in his first game in five months, 10 weeks after undergoing surgery on a back complaint.

"I was a little bit more nervous than in the past," said the 33-year-old former Lions captain, after only his third outing of the campaign.

"Not about my back really but the possibility that I could pick up another injury or anything – but then that could happen any time you go out on the pitch really.

"If that had happened, it probably would have broken me. It's great to get 40 minutes."

Once he reports no concerns within the next 48 hours, O'Connell will ramp up his recovery with an eye to a club game with Young Munster this weekend, and most likely Munster's two Pro12 games later this month.

"The plan was to play today and see how I was tomorrow. And then I'll start planning again from there. The hope would be to be involved in the next couple of Rabo games. The more games I can play the better," he said.

"I think the Heineken Cup is definitely on for me. I'm available for selection anyway."

O'Connell, who expressed his frustration at missing out of Ireland's injury-plagued Six Nations campaign, has previously dampened down his prospects of featuring in this summer's Lions tour.

However, head coach Warren Gatland, who is spending two days in Ireland camp this week, will have received an upbeat report from Ireland assistant Anthony Foley, who travelled to Limerick yesterday.

"I don't know about Australia," added O'Connell. "I feel great now. I feel mentally fresh as well, which is something you don't always feel at this time of year. I've had a long time off. I've had a lot of babysitting with (son) Paddy so hopefully I can get a good run injury-free now."

Irish Independent

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