MUNSTER’S Paul O’Connell has been ruled out of Ireland’s opening autumn international against South Africa on Saturday due to a troublesome back injury.
O’Connell trained with the Irish squad at Carton House on Monday and Tuesday of this week, but suffered a reaction. As a result, he will be unavailable for Ireland’s glamour fixture with the Springboks at the Aviva Stadium (5.30pm).
O’Connell had also been tipped to captain Declan Kidney’s side this weekend in the absence of injured captain Brian O’Driscoll.
In a statement issued this Wednesday, an IRFU spokesman said 33-year-old O’Connell will ‘see a specialist in the coming days and an update will be issued in due course.’
O’Connell has only featured twice for Munster this season - both times in the Heineken Cup - as his injury struggles continued from last term.
When he made his comeback against Racing Metro in the opening round of the Heineken Cup last month, the talismanic O’Connell had been sidelined for five months and a week after limping out of a Rabo game at home to Ulster with a serious knee injury last May.
During his time on the sidelines O’Connell also missed Ireland’s summer tour to New Zealand.
Ireland are also without established internationals Brian O’Driscoll, Seán O’Brien, Stephen Ferris, Rob Kearney and Rory Best for the game with the South Africans.