Paul O’Connell thrilled after Munster return

Paul O'Connell starts his first game for Munster since October in the province's PRO12 clash wth Connacht at Musgrave Park this Saturday (5.4pm)
Paul O’Connell made a successful comeback from injury today when he came through 40 minutes for Munster ‘A’ against Leinster A at UL.

Paul O’Connell made a successful comeback from injury today when he came through 40 minutes for Munster ‘A’ against Leinster A at UL.

A relieved O’Connell said he was delighted to have made his comeback, just over 10 weeks after having surgery to rectify a bulging disc in his back.

A decision on whether the next step in O’Connell’s comeback will be for Young Munster in Saturday’s AIL tie with Cork Con at Clifford Park or for Munster in their RaboDirect PRO12 game with Connacht at Musgrave Park on March 23 is due within the next 48 hours.

O’Connell said he didn’t feel any ill-effects in the immediate aftermath of the game which Munster A won on a 24-17 scoreline.

“I’m injury free but I don’t know about fit. It was very enjoyable,” O’Connell enthused.

“The lads played some great rugby. Lucky enough, it was a great day, a dry ball and that makes it harder on the lungs which is exactly what I needed. It was really enjoyable and good to get the win as well.

“I’ve done plenty of fitness sessions which in some ways are harder than this. But it’s just the intensity of getting up off the ground, of trying to be dynamic and get up and do it again five or six times in a row. That’s something that’s hard to replicate in training, especially in contact.

“So yeah, I was definitely blowing but I’m delighted. I don’t feel any ill-effects now or anything. I feel good.

“The plan was to play today and see how I was tomorrow. And then I’ll start planning again from there. The hope would be to be involved in the next couple of Rabo games, first and foremost.

“The more games I can play the better.

“I think the Heineken Cup is definitely on for me. I’m available for selection anyway. The two Donnachas have been playing very well so we’ll see what happens.

“I don’t really know about playing for Young Munster this weekend. I haven’t discussed it with the physio.”

Munster coach Rob Penney was delighted with how O’Connell’s comeback had gone. Penney didn’t rule out the possibility of O’Connell featuring for Young Munster in their home AIL match with Cork Con this Saturday.

“I’m really pleased for him that he got through 40 minutes and looked vigorous,” Penney said.

“I was watching him closely around the contact area, the areas you need to be robust and he could have been potentially compromised but he didn’t look like he was flinching at any time. He looks like he is on the mend and he is on track for a little bit more footie in the next week or so.

“We will see how he backs up. The next 48 hours will be a big indicator of his ability to play in the next few weeks.

“The next 48 hours will determine if he plays for his club this weekend. If it is the right thing for Paul, then it’s the right thing. I love the guys playing their club rugby when they can.”