Monday 19 February 2018

Boost for Ireland as Paul O'Connell comes through training

Paul O'Connell
Paul O'Connell

Ruaidhri O’Connor

Paul O'Connell came through his first full training session unscathed this morning, but Ireland forwards coach John Plumtree cast some doubt on whether the Lions second row will be risked against Samoa.

The Munster talisman injured his calf two weeks ago and missed the entirety of training at Carton House last week, returning to running over the weekend.

He, Sean O’Brien and Robbie Henshaw all returned to the field yesterday for a full session as preparations continued for the Guinness Series, but with O’Connell the hot favourite to lead Ireland in this month’s three internationals, the New Zealander was not giving much away.

“Paul O’Connell ran, Seán O’Brien ran. They’ve been struggling a little bit but they both ran today,” he said, before being asked if O’Connell could start.

“That would be a medical decision based on whether he could do 80 (minutes). Today was the first time he trained but whether he can do 80 or not I’m not sure.”

“He’s our most experienced lock, and he has been the glue in that pack for a while so he is important and enthusiastic and still loves playing for Ireland so he is important.”

Plumtree gave a more positive bulletin on Brian O’Driscoll who looks to have shaken off his own calf problem and should be available.

“Today was his first real training with the team and he went through alright. He looked good,” the former Natal Sharks coach said.

The forwards coach, who took training with Les Kiss in Joe Schmidt’s absence today as the head coach was in London at an IRB organised coaches and referees meeting, revealed that he got some inadvertent reconnaissance work done on Monday when he stumbled upon Saturday’s opponents when doing the school run at Blackrock College.

“In the past Samoa have relied on a lot of individuals but I was in South Africa when they played recently and they play as a team now,” he said.

“Actually, they were training at my sons school so when I went down to pick them up, I wasn’t spying or anything, didn’t realise it was going to happen, but their training was well organised. They are a real threat now because they play as a team.”

Schmidt names his side to face Samoa on Thursday.

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