The Official Online RBS 6 Nations Store is open. The store has everything you need to get behind your team during the RBS 6 Nations, plus the store is now fully stocked with a much wider range of rugby merchandise.
Following a problematic rehab period for a knee injury originally sustained in Ireland’s RBS 6 Nations match against France, the Munster second-row is in line to kick-off his season alongside fellow internationals Ronan O’Gara, Keith Earls, Connor Murray and Simon Zebo for Munster in the derby against Ulster.
Reduced to a spectator for Ireland’s bruising Test series against the World Champion All Blacks, O’Connell is not the only international being eased back into domestic action.
After impressing in a green shirt this summer forwards Donnacha Ryan and Peter O’Mahony will be given an extra week to return to full match fitness by Munster team manager Niall O’Donovan.
And the former Ireland forwards coach knows first-hand the importance of ensuring Test players get the proper rest periods – regardless of whether they have 85 caps to their name or not.
"It is in all our best interests to look after the players and make sure they are able to play the vital games we want them to play," said O'Donovan told the Irish Examiner.
"You'd love to be able to play Paul O'Connell week-in week-out but you can't.
“You have to get a guy who is gone into his early 30s now and mind him, and it is the same with the younger guys coming through, like Peter O'Mahony, and make sure they are getting the proper pre-season.
“You have to make sure they are ready to go into battle when the time comes.
"We work closely with the Irish management on when we can slot guys in and when we take them out.
“They have to have their time off, otherwise they are a spent force."