The flanker has been dogged by injuries over the past decade, meaning he only earned 56 caps for Ireland since 2009. This is surprisingly low for a player that has consistently been one of the best loose forwards in the world.
As this was the latest in a catalogue of injuries, Exiles fans started to doubt whether he would ever play for them, as retirement seemed an increasing possibility for the 32-year-old.
However, O’Brien has given an update on Instagram on his health after surgery on his hip and he has said that he “couldn’t be happier the way hip feels”.
O’Brien had a hip resurfacing, the same surgery as tennis player Andy Murray, and he shared the x-ray of his new hip joint. He also said that he no longer has the pain that had since November 2017.
The Irishman finished by saying that he is “excited about what lies ahead now”, as will all London Irish fans as they look forward to him taking the field at the end of 2019 or the beginning of 2020.
The five-cap British and Irish Lion is one of a number of landmark signings for Declan Kidney and Les Kiss ahead of next season and they will be delighted that he looks set to return to full health.
The possibility of losing O’Brien due to retirement would have been a grave management concern, as it was for a number of fans.
Irish have also signed some other big names such as the All Blacks’ Waisake Naholo and the Wallabies’ Nick Phipps, Adam Coleman and Sekope Kepu as they seek to make an impact in their first season back in the Gallagher Premiership.
WATCH: Assistant coach Simon Easterby provides an update on how Ireland’s World Cup preparations are going
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