sport

O'Connell left 'embarrassed'

Paul O'Connell admitted he was embarrassed by his late withdrawal from Ireland's RBS 6 Nations opener against Scotland with a chest infection.

The Ireland captain trained fully on Thursday for the first time since withdrawing on Sunday, just hours before Ireland faced Scotland at the Aviva Stadium.

Munster's talismanic lock completed a course of antibiotics on Thursday, revealing he has played through similar remedies with no ill effects in the past.

O'Connell will start Saturday's Six Nations clash in Dublin against Wales, admitting he has taken a fair amount of stick from former Ireland team-mates for being laid low by his chest complaint last week.

"I've just got a little bit of a cough left, that's all," said the 34-year-old.

"It's a bit embarrassing really: I've copped plenty of slagging from the old-school players I've played with for years.

"I've just finished a course of antibiotics, I'm finishing them today.

"I've played matches on them before, so I don't struggle with it at all."

Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt does not expect any similar last-minute dramas with his captain this weekend.

"If we get through Saturday morning with him he'll be fit and ready to go!" joked Schmidt.

"He trained fully on Thursday and I'm confident there will be no late changes to that this time around.

"As soon as I saw the name on my phone on Sunday I knew something was up.

"The doctor doesn't ring at eight in the morning to ask if I want to go for a coffee."

Schmidt has made just two changes to the starting line-up that saw off Scotland 28-6 last weekend, O'Connell slotting in for Dan Tuohy who drops to the bench and stalwart centre Gordon D'Arcy replacing Luke Marshall.

Ireland boss Schmidt confirmed loosehead prop Cian Healy has made a full recovery from the ankle knock suffered against Scotland.

Former New Zealand schoolteacher Schmidt revealed Ireland have been forced to keep training unusually light given the bruising nature of their Scotland victory, and their six-day turnaround to face Wales.

"We did half an hour on Tuesday, an hour on Thursday, and that's pretty much it with the captain's run on Friday too," he said.

"Those first three days post match it's vitally important to get a full recovery.

"I'm certainly hoping to see it starting to build on Friday."