Munster talisman Paul O’Connell has admitted he is still a long way off a return to action.
The man who led Munster to Magners League glory in 2009 has already missed five league games so far this season and will be a mere spectator when the former European Champions kick off their Heineken Cup campaign at London Irish this weekend.
Ireland fans had hoped the inspirational second row would be fit for the start of the autumn international series but O’Connell himself has stated this won’t be the case.
O’Connell is instead targeting a pre-Christmas return, although he admits that even that goal is far from set in stone.
"Hopefully I will be back before Christmas, but I don't really know yet," said O'Connell.
"I had an infection on my pubic bone. It didn't become clear for six weeks and by then the infection had taken root, so I had to go on IV antibiotics. That took a long time and it took a lot out of me."
The second row is still unable to take part in training with his Munster team-mates, meaning it remains impossible to put a definite date on his return.
"I'm not back in full training yet, hopefully that will happen in the next few weeks. I'll have to do a bit of a mini pre-season.
"From when I'm back on the field it might be about six weeks."