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O'Driscoll hopes to be fit for 6 Nations opener

The Ireland captain is not certain, but is aiming to get some game-time before the February clash with Wales.

Image: ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

IRELAND CAPTAIN BRIAN O’Driscoll returned to training with Leinster this week and is targeting late January as the time he will regain full-fitness.

The iconic centre suffered an ankle injury prior to Ireland’s series of November internationals and early prognoses ruled him out for 12 weeks.

With Ireland’s 2013 Six Nations campaign kicking off against Wales on February 2, it was always going to be touch and go whether he could return in time.

However, speaking at the announcement of Lucozade as the official drink of the IRFU, O’Driscoll remained positive of cutting a little time off his return date.

“I’m due to come back towards the end of January. That would be 11 or 12 weeks away, so I’d be hopeful to play a bit before that. Just when that is, I don’t know.” Said the 33-year-old.

“You have to be patient with it. Just because you’re back on the pitch, doesn’t mean you’re doing everything - (it’s just about) small steps to get where I need to be, doing collision stuff before a game.

“I don’t know when that will be. I’ll see a specialist again next week and then, hopefully, get more of an idea of where I need to be to be available.”

In all likelihood, O’Driscoll will not be fit in time for either of Leinster’s remaining Heineken Cup pool fixtures. He still feels a “reality check” of pain in the ankle from time to time reminding him to take things slow.

It’s a process he has come to know well, and he admits that it has gotten easier with age and experience. Nowadays, with a body creaking with so many hard hits, he is able to be philosophical about a period of forced recuperation despite the obvious frustration of being unable to influence results.

No-win

“It definitely gets easier. You set yourself small little targets and little goals along the way. It becomes a time when you’re able to get a bit selfish and worry about yourself – which is fairly unique to our team sport.

“That part is nice, but then comes a time (when you need to get back). It’s not much fun on your own. It’s good craic when you’re out in a team environment.”

“I’ve always said that injury is a no-win. When they’re going well they don’t miss you and when they’re struggling you feel you could give a helping hand.

“It’s definitely the hardest part of what we do but sometimes you have to look at injuries in a positive light. They give you a chance to freshen up and go again for what will, hopefully, be a big six months.”

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