British & Irish Lions
Rowntree optimistic on O'Brien injury
ESPN Staff
May 22, 2013
Ireland's Sean O'Brien tries in vain to get through the France defence, Ireland v France, Aviva Stadium, Dublin, Ireland, August 20, 2011
Sean O'Brien could play for Leinster this weekend © Getty Images
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British & Irish Lions coach Graham Rowntree has suggested Leinster's Sean O'Brien's recovery from his injury is ahead of schedule.

O'Brien suffered a knee injury against Stade Francais on Friday, while playing in the Amlin Challenge Cup Final, and was expected to be out for two weeks. But Lions forwards coach Rowntree has revealed the injury is not as bad as initially feared and the 26-year-old Ireland back row could be in contention for selection against Ulster in Saturday's RaboDirect PRO12 final.

"Sean is getting a lot better and has improved quickly over the last 48 hours and with regards to Saturday, watch this space," Rowntree said.

O'Brien will miss out on the Lions' opening fixture against the Barbarians in Hong Kong on June 1 even if he does face Ulster, but it would make him available to face Western Force four days later.

Of the 37-man squad selected for the tour to Hong Kong and Australia, 15 are involved in matches this weekend with Leinster, Ulster, Leicester, Northampton and Toulon and have yet to join their counterparts. Rowntree, himself a two-time Lions tourist, envisages few issues integrating the incoming players when they arrive on Sunday.

"Given the nature and class of those players, I'm sure they'll pick up our systems and the way we do thing very quickly, that's why we're picking them," he said. "The beauty of how we're doing things is that it's very simple.

"There's a very simple shape to how we're playing the game, our calling structure is very simple because of the understanding that we have limited time to get things right. So the guys coming in will slip straight in and they'll be battle hardened heading into Hong Kong.

"We'll be anxious watching the matches they're playing in, but the beauty of this squad is the players we've left at home. I'll be sat with everything crossed."

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