Drico winning fitness battle
Irish skipper making progress but still a doubt for Boks test
BRIAN O'DRISCOLL is making encouraging progress in his battle with a hamstring injury, according to Ireland's defence coach Les Kiss.
O'Driscoll is a doubt for the opening autumn international against South Africa tomorrow week after pulling his hamstring while on Heineken Cup duty for Leinster on October 9.
The Ireland skipper has played a limited part in training since, but Kiss delivered an upbeat assessment of his rehabilitation.
"Brian's working very hard and over the last two or three days has put in some good rehab work with the medical staff, who are doing a fantastic job," he said. "Talking to him after the session he was very happy where he ended up.
"He has another rehab session and then a couple of days rest when he will be doing a little bit of stuff. We will see how he goes after that."
Munster back Keith Earls missed training yesterday to continue receiving treatment on his ankle problem.
Meanwhile, returning fly-half Dan Carter is confident he has fully recovered from ankle surgery as he prepares to face Australia in tomorrow's Bledisloe Cup clash in Hong Kong.
It will be Carter's first competitive action since the procedure to remove bone in his right ankle and the 28-year-old has no concerns over any potential setbacks.
"Yeah it's been good. I've got through a pretty heavy workload through the early part of the week which has been good and I've had to manage myself through training," he said.
"It was a few bits of bone that they had to remove and you lose a bit of calf strength when you're not able to be mobile on the right foot so it was just a matter of building that up again.
"It's not too bad, you just lose a bit of acceleration and things like that but in terms of it being painful, it's pretty good.
"I'm confident that I'll get through the first 40 and then play it by ear from there. The last thing I want to do is set myself back by playing too much.
"There's still a lot of big rugby to be played on this tour so it's about making smart decisions."
Elsewhere, former England captain Phil Vickery has revealed he will need "a lifetime of maintenance" after being forced to retire with a neck injury.
The 34-year-old prop has been in left in severe pain after damaging a disc while captaining Wasps against his old club Gloucester on September 25.
Vickery successfully recovered from four major back and neck operations during a glittering 15-year professional career -- but this time the risk of serious injury was too great.
"This time I knew something wasn't right. I am not scared of pain but the pain level was more than before," said Vickery.
"Even now just sitting, driving in the car, trying to sleep at night is painful. I sneezed earlier and thought someone had stabbed me in the back of the head. I know I can't carry on like this.
"There will be no more operations. It is going to need a lifetime of maintenance now, it is not just week to week and month to month.
"I have never been under any illusions as to what you put your body through. Do I want to know what I will be like in later life? Probably not.
"Rugby has given me everything in my life. It has been a dream run. I look back with real happiness and it's been amazing. The more I look back and think about it the more I think what I've done is fantastic and I have a lot of fond memories but, of course, it's sad."