O'Brien sights set on return for November internationals
SEAN O'BRIEN has revealed that he has been inhibited by his hip injury since Ireland's win over Australia at the World Cup.
The Leinster flanker will undergo surgery on the joint on Monday to clear up a problem that has hampered him all season.
O'Brien believes it was a major factor when he gave an underpowered display against Wales in the quarter-final in New Zealand, and the Tullow man has had to adapt his game in order to compete at the top level this season.
"It hasn't been too bad but is something that has hindered me throughout the season," he explained at the launch of 'Specsavers SuperTough lenses for kids' yesterday.
"It was at me against Wales, but I didn't know about it until afterwards. I reckon that was the start of it. I found it hard to get to grips with it and find a way to get back moving well.
"Getting an operation will hopefully sort it. They say I'll be out for four months but I'll hopefully be back before that and target the November Series."
While O'Brien has had to adapt his game because of the injury, he believes that he would have done so anyway as he moved to openside regularly and teams began to double-team him as he carried the ball.
"After the World Cup teams target you a lot and you can only do so much," he admitted. "Regardless of your carrying ability, you have to adapt your game to do other things and I think I did that this year.
"Maybe I haven't made as many breaks as last year but I think I have improved other parts of my game."
The ramifications of Saturday's 60-0 defeat to New Zealand continue to be discussed and many are calling for an influx of young blood to the Ireland team. But O'Brien does not believe you can simply throw youth at the problem.
"It's a tricky situation because you can put someone through very young -- at 19 or 20 -- and you get him broken up, have the worst games of their lives, or they could have their best games of their lives," he said.
"It's a 50-50 thing how you manage players and bring them through. I'd certainly be of the opinion if they're good enough, give them a chance. But if the lads ahead of them are doing their jobs and playing well, it's hard for younger lads to come through.
"I wasn't ready when I was 19 or 20 to play with Ireland. What I learned from when I was 20 to 22, when I got my first cap, was massive. Just being within a senior squad and learning how to win pressure games is a big thing going from your province to international. It's a big step."