Brian O’Driscoll looks set to make his return for Leinster in Friday’s RaboDirect PRO12 clash with the Ospreys as the defending European champions gear up for the business end of their season.
The 33-year-old has not featured for club or country since Ireland’s World Cup quarter-final defeat to Wales on October 8 after an operation to mend a trapped nerve in his shoulder.
He also missed the entire Six Nations Championship but is back in the full-contact training as of Monday and is expected to feature against the Ospreys at the RDS.
And while Leinster coach Joe Schmidt admits O’Driscoll is back in playing contention far earlier than expected, he revealed the outside centre will play a key role for the RaboDirect PRO12 leaders and Heineken Cup defending champions in their run-in.
“His reputation precedes him as a fast healer,” Schmidt told the Irish Times.
“This is the very earliest we felt we’d have him back. The prognosis was he’d return a month or six weeks later but things have gone really well for him in his rehabilitation.
“For us, if he was to be in contention for some of the big games coming up, he’d want to get at least a bit of time under his belt this Friday.
“He’s had a couple of hits on the shoulder. Not body on body but certainly body on hit-shield. He came through that no problem last Friday so he has had a weekend to recover from that.”