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Former Ireland international flanker Sean O'Brien will make his long-awaited debut for London Irish at The AJ Bell Stadium against Sale this weekend.

The 2011 ERC European Player of the year has not played since last May and will wear the number-six shirt on his first outing for the Exiles.

London Irish are currently eighth in the Gallagher Premiership table while their opponents Sale sit in second place behind leaders Exeter.

Ceremonial

It will be the first outing for O'Brien since May 2019, his final appearance for Leinster where he made 156 appearances in an injury-ravaged career. The province gave him the ceremonial honour of lifting the PRO14 trophy in 2019 representing the 57 players who had turned out in blue over course of that season.

The following Monday, a statement was released confirming the flanker required surgery on his hip, thus ending his career in Ireland.

The hip problem also ended his International career as he was ruled out of the Rugby World Cup in Japan, someone who would undoubtedly have added some much need 'dog' to the Irish pack.

Six months was the initial prognosis for recovery for Sean O'Brien, however, that timeline has proven beyond optimistic. Saturday will be his first outing in almost exactly ten months, with rumours of his permanent decline circulating in that time.

The AJ Bell Stadium will host the first page of what will most likely be the final chapter of the career of one of Ireland's great players, even if that career will always have a hint of unfulfilled potential due to the litany of injuries he suffered.

If any payer ever deserved an injury-free run in the autumn of his career, even just to remind Ireland fans what they are missing, it's the Tullow Tank.

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Gallagher Premiership London Irish Rugby Sean O'brien Tullow Tank

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