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Six Nations
O'Connell ruled out of Six Nations
ESPN Staff
January 1, 2013
Ireland captain Paul O'Connell, France v Ireland, Six Nations, Stade de France, Paris, France, February 11, 2012
Paul O'Connell hasn't played since October but he hopes to be back in action before the end of the season © Getty Images
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Munster and Ireland second row Paul O'Connell has been ruled out of the Six Nations but hopes to return to action in April after a successful operation to correct a bulging disc in his lower back.

O'Connell has not played since October and initial reports of his surgery, the second time in his career that he has undergone such an operation, suggested he would be out of action for the rest of the season - ruling him out of the latest battle for northern hemisphere supremacy and the British & Irish Lions tour to Australia this summer.

But the 33-year-old, who captained the 2009 Lions on their tour of South Africa and played in all three Tests against New Zealand in 2005, has revealed his intention to be back in Munster colours in three months' time.

"I'm delighted with the way the operation went," O'Connell said. "More importantly, so too are the medical team who carried out the operation and I am very grateful to all concerned. My aim now is to start rehab as soon as is practicable. In terms of a return, I'd be looking at early April when hopefully Munster will be in contention for trophies on two fronts."

O'Connell made a surprise return from a knee injury earlier this season having spent seven months on the sidelines with a knee injury suffered in Ireland's clash with France in last year's Six Nations. But having linked up with Ireland ahead of their end of year campaign, his back problems resurfaced.

Ireland coach Declan Kidney is also set to be without winger Tommy Bowe for the Six Nations with the Ulster speedster battling back from a knee injury. His Ulster team-mate Stephen Ferris is another major injury concern having undergone ankle surgery last month but captain Brian O'Driscoll is set to be available with the centre set to return from an ankle injury.

Ireland kick off their Six Nations campaign against Wales at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff on February 2.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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