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Former Lions captain hopeful of heading to Australia

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James Mortimer     02 Jan 2013     Getty Images

A bulging disc in his back led to the former Lions and Ireland captain taking the option to have surgery, and is targeting an April return to push for selection honours.

He is one of a few Irish elder statesman, including centre Brian O’Driscoll, who have expressed a desire to play in the tourists trip down under this season, with three Tests against the Wallabies taking place amidst a host of ‘midweek’ matches.

O’Connell said that all had agreed the surgery was a success and that he was a good chance to make a return in the next four months.

"I'm delighted with the way the operation went,” he 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 (Heineken Cup and RaboDirect Pro12) on two fronts."

This is not the first time O’Connell has had issues with his back, having surgery in 2002, while a re-occurring complaint in 2008 was at the time managed without having to go under the knife.