Sean O'Brien could be in contention to feature against France after proving his fitness in this morning's training session at Carton House.

The Ireland flanker picked up a slight hamstring strain ahead of Ireland's victory over Italy last weekend but has recovered well enough and he took a full part in training with the squad. 

O'Brien left the field during the warm-up ahead of last Saturday's game in Rome with the hamstring problem, which was yesterday graded as a low level of strain following an MRI scan.

Jonathan Sexton is set to return after missing two and a half months following concussion related issues, while Jamie Heaslip, Cian Healy, Eoghan Reddan and Dave Kearney are also back in contention after returning to full fitness.

"Johnny's fine: he took a full part in training and did contact work today and is raring to go for the weekend," said skills coach Richie Murphy.

"He's just itching to go. The last few weeks probably have been a little bit frustrating but he understood that he couldn't play until he got the all clear. He's got that now and he's ready to go.

"His kicking is going fine: we did some work today and yesterday and he seems to be in a good spot.

"Obviously he hasn't taken any competitive kicks for a while so we will see how he gets on at the weekend.

"It's a pretty big test for him but the great benefit he has is that he has been training so he has had his eye in doing a lot of skill work and non-contact stuff that we have been doing.

"It's not as bad as somebody coming from injury where they haven't been able to touch the ball."

Aside from hooker Rory Best, Murphy confirmed Ireland had a clean bill of health. 

"Johnny's fine: he took a full part in training and did contact work"

That positive injury report leaves head coach Joe Schmidt potentially selecting from strength, aside from longer-term concerns.

Murphy said Best is "doing really well" as he follows return-to-play concussion protocols, with a decision on his fitness to be made later in the week.

Ireland boss Schmidt does prefer to select his match squad on a Tuesday ahead of Thursday confirmation - but could yet hang fire to allow Best further recovery time.

When asked if Best would miss out on selection for not training on Tuesday, Murphy said: "Not at this stage, no.

"We'll wait and see where he's at. We'll have a better indication as to where he's at on Wednesday evening and we'll see where he's at then.

Against The Head


"Everyone took part in training today so Sean O'Brien took a full part and Jamie was back, Eoin Reddan and Dave Kearney all in full training," said Murphy.

"The only one that didn't was Rory Best because he is on the return-to-play protocols.

"Rory's doing really well. The medical staff are really happy with where he's at."