Ireland lock Paul O'Connell will miss the Six Nations
championship after a back operation but hopes to return in
early April in time for the British and Irish Lions' tour of
Australia starting in June.
O'Connell who captained the Lions during their last tour in
South Africa four years ago, has played only two games for
his provincial side Munster this season and last started for
Ireland during last year's Six Nations.
The 33-year-old lock, who has been dogged by injury in recent
years, underwent surgery on his back for the second time on
Monday (local time) and said the operation had gone well.
"My aim now is to start rehab as soon as is practicable. In
terms of a return, I'd be looking at early April," O'Connell
told Munster's website on Tuesday.
Tommy Bowe has also been ruled out of the Six Nations
championship, which Ireland begin in Wales on February 2,
because of a knee injury. However, the Ulster wing should
also return in April in time for possible inclusion in Lions'
coach Warren Gatland's squad for Australia.