O'Brien eager to prove his fitness before Twickenham showdown
Joe Schmidt will be keeping a close eye on Leinster's rescheduled top-of-the-table PRO14 clash against the Scarlets this evening, and he won't be the only one as Irish supporters keep their fingers crossed that Sean O'Brien comes through unscathed.
The Tullow native hasn't played since injuring his hip in December and with a potential Grand Slam showdown to come next weekend, his return could hardly be better timed.
O'Brien, who will captain his side in Llanelli, has only played four times for Leinster this season, and with Saracens lying in wait in the coming weeks, he could yet have a major say for club and country.
The 31-year-old is an automatic selection for Schmidt when fully fit and despite his spell on the sidelines, if O'Brien hits the ground running he will certainly give the Ireland head coach something to think about for the trip to Twickenham.
Asked if O'Brien will come into the equation if he comes through without any issues, Schmidt said: "Yeah, of course he does. And I will be watching how he leads the side because he tends to lead himself pretty well once he's on the pitch.
"That's of interest to us without a doubt. If I don't see it live with the 20s on at the same time, then I'll certainly record it and have a look later in the evening."
The flanker won't be the only Leinster player out to prove a point however, as Jack Conan comes to terms with being overlooked for tomorrow's Six Nations clash against Scotland.
Conan starts at No 8 against the Scarlets as he makes up the back-row along with O'Brien and Josh Murphy.
The Byrne twins, Ed and Bryan, continue their run in the front-row together, while there is a heavy former St Michael's College presence in the back-line as Nick McCarthy links up with Ross Byrne at half-back, with Noel Reid partnering Rory O'Loughlin in midfield.
The sides met in Dublin last month when Leinster ran out winners but back on home soil, the champions will be gunning for revenge.
Scarlets - T Williams; I Nicholas, P Asquith, S Hughes (capt), R Conbeer; D Jones, J Evans; P Price, R Elias, W Kruger; S Cummins, D Bulbring; T Beirne, J Macleod, W Boyde. Reps: E Phillips, R Fawcett, S Gardiner, J Helps, L Rawlins, D Smith, I Hughes, T Varndell.
Leinster - D Kearney; B Daly, R O'Loughlin, N Reid, J Lowe; R Byrne, N McCarthy; E Byrne, B Byrne, M Bent; R Molony, S Fardy; J Murphy, S O'Brien (capt), J Conan. Reps: J Tracy, P Dooley, A Coyle, M Kearney, M Deegan, C Rock, C Frawley, A Byrne.
REF - N Owens (WRU).