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O'Connell targets April return after successful back operation

The second row could now put himself into Lions contention with a smooth run through rehabilitation.

Image: ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

MUNSTER RUGBY HAVE this afternoon confirmed that Paul O’Connell underwent a ‘successful’ operation on the back injury which has plagued his fitness this season.

The New Year’s Eve operation in a Dublin hospital was to correct a bulging disc, pressing a nerve in his lower back.

O’Connell, who had similar trouble in 2002 and 2008, expressed his gratitude via a Munster statement today:

“I’m delighted with the way the operation went. More importantly, so too are the medical team who carried out the operation and I am very grateful to all concerned.”

The inspirational second row added that he hopes to return to competitive rugby after the Six Nations, ideally with his province involved in the knockout stages of the Heineken Cup.

“My aim now is to start rehab as soon as is practicable. In terms of a return, I’d be looking at early April when hopefully Munster will be in contention for trophies on two fronts.”

The injury has been a matter of some speculation over recent months as precise details were kept under wraps by the IRFU, but today’s statement indicates the ‘conservative management’ of the injury was followed because of the 33-year-old’s history of recovering from the problem.

However, when improvements slowed they deemed surgery the only route left to recovery.

The second row, who captained the British and Irish Lions in 2009, will also be hoping that fitness will be enough for him to make a late claim for inclusion in Warren Gatland’s squad to tour Australia in June.

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