Magners League
O'Connell set for December return
August 20, 2010
Munster lock Paul O'Connell waits for the kick-off, Northampton Saints v Munster, Heineken Cup, Franklin's Gardens, October 10, 2009
Talisman Paul O'Connell will captain Munster again this season but will not be fit until December © Getty Images

Munster have confirmed that veteran lock Paul O'Connell will captain the province this season but the long-term injury casualty is not expected to be fit for a return to action until December.

The 30-year-old lock has been sidelined since picking up a groin infection last March - missing the latter part of this year's Six Nations, the Ireland tour to New Zealand and the end of Munster's domestic campaign. And the Irish Times reports that he is set to miss the start of the new season including the autumn internationals and his province's early Heineken Cup clashes.

"I'll be setting my sights around December, and anything else would be a bonus," said O'Connell at an event confirming an extension of the team's partnership with Toyota, a deal worth €5.75 million over the next three years. "I went back running 10 days ago, and I've had no problems. I need to go about 12 weeks from when I stopped the antibiotics and get back into the heavy stuff, so I'm about eight and a half weeks into that now. It's flying along at the moment. It was really slow at the start, but it's getting quicker now and going very well."

Fit-again Denis Leamy will captain Munster in their first game of the season against Leicester Tigers at Musgrave Park on Friday night. Leamy has successfully battled back from a career-threatening knee injury sustained against Perpignan last December and is delighted to be involved again. "I'm looking forward to it," said Leamy. "I'm trying to talk it down a small bit but it's great to be back with the lads, to be honest."


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