play Connacht (Tuesday 7.35pm Thomond Park) will be selected. O'Connell took a
full part in the late morning session held today (Thursday) in Thomond Park.
The international lock has been out of action since injuring a hand in the
Celtic League game against Llanelli in September.
With 10 of his squad away with the national squad in Lanzarote and not due to
return until Friday (23rd), Munster coach Declan Kidney will not be in a
position to finalise his starting line-up until after the St Stephen's Day
Meanwhile, the good news to emerge from the national squad trip to Lanzarote is that the proposed training camp, planned for January 1st-4th, has been booted into touch following consultation, presumably, with the players themselves.
According to a statement from Eddie O'Sullivan," this camp has always been part of the season schedule and has been planned since September". However, it seems the national coach has had second thoughts and on reflection has now decided to cancel the early January training camp, "after weighing up the schedule that the players have over the Christmas period and new Year."
That schedule was of course known well in advance of the proposed training camp and former Irish international and Lions team manager voiced the concern that many outside of the national set-up felt when he writing in the Irish Examiner, he said, "In order to extract the best from our players at provincial and national level over the vital period between January and March, our players would be better served with a compulsory break at this time of year".
"In some respects, the demands now placed on the national squad players are impacting negatively on the competitiveness of provincial squads in Europe. The IRFU is now squandering the competitive advantage we hold over our closest rivals. In the quest to bring players back home from Britain some years ago, the structure of the season in Ireland was used as a positive bargaining tool. However, the demands now placed on national squad players are negating that advantage.
"History has shown," continued Lenihan, " that the success of the provinces in Europe has a direct impact on the performance of the national side. That fact seems to be lost at present".
The good news is that, that fact has been recognised by the national coach and whether or not he took cognisance of the bundle of sense that Lenihan spoke, he certainly has put the players best interests and that of their provinces, first.