Brian O’Driscoll will be in the unfamiliar position of watching Ireland’s Six Nations opener against Wales from the sidelines but he hopes to be back on the pitch for Leinster before the end of the season.
The 32-year-old centre will miss an entire Six Nations campaign for the first time in his career but will be watching the re-run of the World Cup quarter-final from the comfort of the Lansdowne Road President’s Box.
Fergus McFadden, who has deputised at outside centre for Leinster, has been overlooked by Ireland coach Declan Kidney in favour of Keith Earls for O’Driscoll’s No.13 jersey.
And while the skipper won’t be back in time to wear it for Ireland during the Six Nations, he’s hopeful he will be back to strengthen Leinster’s RaboDirect PRO12 campaign.
"Things are progressing very nicely and I'm hoping to have some playing involvement with Leinster before the end of the season," said O'Driscoll.
"There have been peaks and troughs mentally on the rehabilitation road but I'm energised by the prospect of being able to play again and over the next few weeks stepping up the levels in training to incorporate skills work.
"The body is responding positively. In fact the enforced lay-off has been hugely beneficial in offsetting the wear and tear of high-level rugby over a sustained period of time.
"It feels strange not to be involved in the Six Nations Championships. I'm intrigued by how the boys are getting on in camp, about new game plans and the re-jigged coaching structure.
"I will be at the Wales game on Sunday because I was kindly given two tickets by Philip Browne (IRFU chief executive) for the Presidential Box.
"I may have to tone it down vocally, which will be a real challenge, because I get animated watching matches."