Munster lock Paul O'Connell is targeting an April return after undergoing successful surgery on a bulging disc in his lower back.
There had been concerns the Ireland second row would struggle to prove his fitness ahead of the British & Irish Lions tour of Australia due to the injury. But the 33-year-old, who skippered the Lions on their 2009 tour of South Africa, is confident of being available for selection, although he will miss all of Ireland's RBS 6 Nations campaign.
"I'm delighted with the way the operation went," said O'Connell, who will leave hospital in Dublin on Tuesday. "More importantly, so too are the medical team who carried out the operation and I am very grateful to all concerned."
He added: "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."