Ireland captain Johnny Sexton said he expects to be fit for their Guinness Six Nations opener against Wales next week, despite a minor muscle injury.
The fly-half limped out of Leinster’s Guinness PRO14 match against Munster last weekend with a suspected hamstring problem, raising doubts over his availability for the 2021 Championship.
But the 35-year-old is hoping to return to training this week and prove his fitness ahead of the Round 1 fixture in Cardiff next Sunday, February 7.
“Any time you get a little niggle like that, it is very frustrating,” he said.
“I have done a lot of work in the last four or five weeks and trained very hard to make sure that didn’t happen. But it did at the time I didn’t want it to.
“That’s typical but it’s nothing major, hopefully I’ll be back training by the end of the week and be fit for the Wales game. It can be frustrating but then it is a tough game to get through now.
“I won’t let it get me down too much, I’ll get back on the horse and hopefully be firing next week.”
That will be music to the ears of head coach Andy Farrell, who also revealed Jacob Stockdale could be back in time to face Italy in Round 3.
The 2018 Player of the Championship hurt his knee while playing for club side Ulster earlier this month and was not named in Farrell’s initial squad.
“He is progressing well, it’s nothing too serious but he has a bone bruise and I understand that takes a bit of time to settle down,” Farrell said.
“We understand he won’t be available for the first two games but if all goes well, he’ll be back up and running midway through.”