O'Connell: 'I will be ready for Harlequins'
PAUL O'CONNELL has given Munster a massive boost by guaranteeing he will be at full fitness in time for their Heineken Cup quarter-final against Harlequins on April 7.
The towering second-row made a winning return to the Munster team on Saturday night, scoring his first try for them in over four years, and expressed with absolute certainty that he will be "available for selection" for the game at the Twickenham Stoop.
"I'll be fine by Harlequins. I know that myself," said O'Connell (right). "It usually takes me three matches to get my fitness back and I've two-and-a-half played now. I will feel better as a result of this one.
"It was great to get through the 80 minutes. I had a few good carries but some of my breakdown stuff I wouldn't be too happy about and I will take a close look at that.
"But it is great to be back. The last few months I've been doing rehab on the weekends and watching games from the stands so it was great to be able to play."
O'Connell's conditioning and his enduring excellence will certainly pique the interest of Lions coach Warren Gatland over the coming weeks and the 2009 captain will surely be a contender to make his third Tour.
"I'm not thinking about that. I'm just happy to be back playing for Munster. I want to play as well and for as long as I can for Munster. That's my sole focus," he said.
It is inconceivable that O'Connell isn't hoping to make Gatland's final list. For Munster, and indeed Ireland, supporters it's surely enough to see him back in action after his back operation.