PAUL O’Connell is set to be sidelined until the New Year at least when he is due to see a specialist who will review his troublesome back injury.
Munster today confirmed that talismanic second-row O’Connell would not be seeing any action with the province before the New Year.
A statement issued by the province read: “Paul O’Connell is undergoing treatment for a lower back complaint. His treatment is progressing satisfactorily. He will see a specialist for further review in the New Year.”
It had been expected that Munster would outline a timeframe for O’Connell’s return this week. O’Connell must now be rated extremely doubtful for Munster’s final two Heineken Cup pool matches in mid-January and for the start of the Six Nations championship in early February with Ireland.
O’Connell’s involvement with Munster this season has been limited to just two appearances, against Racing Metro and Edinburgh, in the Heineken Cup in October.
Prior to those two appearances, O’Connell had been sidelined for five months with a serious knee injury.
Munster have indicated that the nature of the latest injury has made it difficult to predict exactly when the 33-year-old would return to action.
While O’Connell’s most recent involvement with Munster was in the Heineken Cup Round 2 game against Edinburgh at Thomond Park, he was subsequently involved in training with the Irish squad before the start of the November internationals.