O’Connell injury saga set to continue into 2013

The ongoing Paul O’Connell injury saga is set to continue, at least until the iconic Munster, Ireland and Lions second row sees a specialist for an updated prognosis on a troublesome back injury early in 2013.

Despite some pessimism as to his future playing prospects, it appears that, all going well, he might well be able to resume by the end of January. At least, sources within the Munster camp expect he will be back in harness well before the end of the season.

An official statement yesterday confirmed: “His treatment is progressing satisfactorily. He will see a specialist for further review in the new year.”

Meanwhile Ulster coach Mark Anscombe is taking no chances ahead of Saturday night’s return bash against Northampton Saints at Ravenhill.

Ulster set out their stall with a bonus-point win at Franklin’s Gardens last Friday night but the Kiwi is wary that complacency may set in ahead of the Pool 4 clash.

“Of course one does worry about it. It is a common trend for most teams around the place.

“I’m still working with these guys and finding out things about each other, and we have addressed it, talked about it, and believed we have said the right things and asked the right questions.

“You just can’t be complacent. It is a disease that hits teams at some stage and that can happen to us, but the we don’t have our feet firmly on the ground. We must still be as hungry in ourselves in what we have set out to do.

“Our challenge is how to repeat that performance. They are wounded, very wounded and a team like Northampton are going to storm back and it is going to be some game come Saturday night,” said Anscombe who will be without his skipper Johann Muller for the game.

“The loss of Johann is massive. He’s an inspirational captain and experienced player. You don’t lose players of that calibre without having an effect on the team.

“But we are confident that our strength in depth is strong and it will create a chance for someone else to come in and we will be fully supportive in the job they have to do.”

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