Sean O’Brien is on track to feature for Ireland against France in the second round of the Six Nations after it was revealed this afternoon that he suffered no more than a minor hamstring strain in Rome on Saturday.
The Leinster flanker had been named to start against Italy at Stadio Olimpico, in what would have been his first Ireland appearance in 15 months, but was stood down after injuring his hamstring in the warm-up.
O’Brien had banked 53 minutes for the Ireland Wolfhounds against the England Saxons eight days earlier, having missed five months of rugby due to complications with a shoulder injury suffered at Christmas of 2013.
“Sean O’Brien had an MRI scan last night which confirmed a hamstring strain on the minor end of the scale,” said Ireland team manager Mick Kearney.
“He is feeling good and we are hopeful that he will train with the squad tomorrow.”
It was good news all round on the injury front.
“Rory Best suffered a concussion,” Kearney added. “He has been very well since the game and has been completing a gradual return to play protocol.
“If he completes this process without any symptoms he will be available for selection.
“Cian Healy trained fully last week, including some scrummaging, and he came through very well.
“He is available for selection. Johnny Sexton has been cleared to train fully and he is available for selection.
“Finally, Jamie Heaslip, Eoin Reddan and Dave Kearney are fully recovered and will train this week.”
Sexton and Heaslip are certain to return to the team for the visit of France to Dublin on Saturday.
What role Healy and O’Brien play is less clear, while Eoin Reddan will be expected to make the bench in place of Leinster colleague Isaac Boss.
Ireland welcome the French – who saw off Scotland at Stade de France in the opening round in Saturday night - to the Aviva Stadium on the back of a functional but effective performance in Rome, where they won 26-3.
“We got off to a winning start in Rome in the first game of the Six Nations,” said scrum-half Conor Murray. “They are always good at that stage of the championship as well so we knew it was going to be tough. We probably didn't play as well as we could have.
“We highlighted a few areas where we weren't so good but that we usually are.
“We can fix them coming into the weekend but I was there two years ago when we lost so getting off to a winning start was the most important part.”