Paul O'Connell will undergo surgery on his back injury "at the earliest opportunity", Munster have confirmed.

A statement issued read: "Following consultation between IRFU and Munster medical staff and the player himself, it has been decided that Paul O'Connell will undergo back surgery at the earliest opportunity."

O’Connell hasn't played since October and the 33-year-old will now have surgery which could rule him out of the Six Nations, while also calling in to question his availability for next summer’s Lions tour to Australia.

The forward has been dogged by injuries in recent years with groin and back problems, while a knee injury kept him out of Ireland's tour of New Zealand last summer.