Joe Schmidt has been handed a boost with the news that Robbie Henshaw could be back fit for the start of the 2019 Guinness Six Nations.
The Ireland international has been out since November when he suffered a hamstring injury warming up before the clash with Argentina.
There were fears that could keep him out of the start of the defence of the Grand Slam title that Ireland won a year ago, but he could be back in contention much sooner.
Leinster senior coach Stuart Lancaster has revealed that the centre could be back as soon as this weekend for a crucial European tie with Toulouse.
“He’s not going to train today but he’s certainly moving along nicely,” said Lancaster.
“If things go well today there’s a good chance he could train tomorrow, which would put him in contention [for the Toulouse game].”
Henshaw featured in the first two games of last year’s Championship, scoring two tries against Italy before injury kept him out of the rest of the campaign.
His return would give Schmidt another option for the opening game of the Guinness Six Nations against England on February 2, alongside the likes of Bundee Aki and Garry Ringrose.