Ireland hope for O’Connell boost

Ireland are hoping that veteran lock and sometime skipper Paul O’Connell will make a timely recovery ahead of Saturday’s Test against the Springboks.

O’Connell and prop Cian Healy took full part in Monday’s training session. It is a good sign for the Irish, although reports from the Emerald Isle suggest that a final call on the pair’s availability will only be made later in the week.

Ireland have already lost captain Brian O’Driscoll, Stephen Ferris, Rob Kearney and Rory Best to serious injuries. If O’Connell is cleared later this week, he will in all likelihood lead the team against the Boks.

In other team news, Simon Zebo is expected to start at No 15 in place of Kearney. The Ireland selectors have decided not to call up Felix Jones.

New Zealand-born prop Michael Bent is likely to start from the bench. Before moving to Leinster, Bent played for the Hurricanes and Taranaki in New Zealand. He qualifies to play for Ireland through his maternal grandmother.