Laszlo Geczo/INPHO
long haul

Kidney ready to be patient as Sean O'Brien works to return from hip injury

‘It’s one thing coming back playing tennis and it’s another coming back playing rugby.’

DECLAN KIDNEY HAS no target set for marquee signing Sean O’Brien’s debut for London Irish, with the Carlow man continuing a difficult recovery after hip surgery.

O’Brien, who is working on his rehab in Leinster as he remains under contract with the IRFU, has signed a three-year deal with the newly-promoted Exiles and hopes to be playing in England early in 2020.

However, Kidney is stressing the importance of patience for the 56-Test 32-year-old.

“It’s an unusual injury and sometimes with ACL injuries or shoulder injuries you can say six months or nine months, but this one is that little bit longer,” said Kidney.

“Andy Murray had the same operation but it’s one thing coming back playing tennis and it’s another coming back playing rugby.

“But if it can be done, I think everyone who knows Sean will know how hard he will work and he’s already cycling away and has good motion.

“It’s highly unlikely it will be this side of Christmas. He’s not due to join us anyway until the start of December, he’s under contract with the IRFU until then so it will be after that that we will get our hands on him and see what condition he is in.

“He is going to be very well catered for in Leinster until then and we know that he will be making any progress he can.”

Kidney, who has guided London Irish back to the Gallagher Premiership at the first attempt, will open the new season with a clash this evening against Munster in his native Cork.

And the former Grand Slam-winning coach said that O’Brien, who made his Irish debut under Kidney against Fiji in November 2009, is going to be one of his cornerstones as London Irish bid to consolidate on their return to the top flight. But he made it clear that London Irish would not stand in O’Brien’s way if Ireland ever offered him a route back to the international scene.

“He’s going to be a key player for us. In Ireland, the policy at the moment is that players who are playing abroad aren’t selected but obviously if Ireland came looking for him we would be only glad to release him, so it won’t be on our side.

“But, then again, I understand why the decision has been made and Sean is looking for a new experience as well.”

Kidney said this evening’s game will give both Munster and his side an opportunity to give a run to fringe players.

“It’s our first pre-season game as well and I think what both sides want is a good outing for the boys. Munster and ourselves have a large contingent away at the World Cup but it’s an opportunity for others.

“There will probably be a bit of rustiness but it will be good to get a game under our belts as it has been a long pre-season,” he added.

With the warm-up games out of the way, Murray, Bernard and Gavan discuss the renewed cause for optimism, impressive individual player form, and a potential quarter-final versus either South Africa or New Zealand.

The42 Rugby Weekly / SoundCloud

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