Tadhg Furlong has confirmed he is on track to be fit for Ireland's Six Nations opener against Wales on February 4, in what is a major boost to Andy Farrell.
Furlong has been sidelined with a calf injury recently, while earlier this season, he was hampered by ankle and hamstring issues.
However, the influential tighthead revealed that none of those injuries were related, as he targets a return for the upcoming trip to Cardiff.
Furlong is set to travel to Portugal with the Ireland squad for a warm weather training camp ahead of the Six Nations.
He has already stepped up his recovery, with all the current signs suggesting he will be able to take on Wales.
“I hope so, that's the plan or back available for selection anyway,” Furlong said.
“We have to see how we go. You have to hit certain markers and stuff like that along the way. It wasn't major or anything like that. Just one of those things that can happen.”
Reflecting on what has been a frustrating spell battling different setbacks, Furlong insisted that it was just part and parcel of the gig.
“I pulled my hamstring against Ulster, then I got back, and usually they integrate you into units and stuff the week before you go back fully training.
“So, I did all that and then I was fit for the Ospreys week, scrum session, one of them ones, scrum collapsed, leg got caught weird and ping goes the calf.
“It's one of them ones, but it's unrelated. Sometimes you re-injure something and that's a real pain, but it's just one of them things, it's part of the job.
“If they (injuries) are related, you're like 'What's going on? We are missing something here,’ you know what I mean?
“But when they are unrelated, it's easier because it's just one of those things. The way I was told, it's similar to getting injured poaching a ball. It just happens, nothing you can do about it.
“We put a good big bank of work in coming back from the hamstring, to try and be nice and bulletproof in terms of a lot of that stuff.
“Is it frustrating? Yeah, it is frustrating when it happens, but there is nothing you can do about it. You just have to keep going.”
Although Furlong denied that there was any sense of him being wrapped in cotton wool given the World Cup year that's in it, there is no doubt that Farrell will not want to take any risks with his fitness.
Furlong has only managed to play two games for Leinster this season, and he will again miss tomorrow's Champions Cup clash with Racing 92 at the Aviva Stadium.
But after being named in the Ireland squad yesterday, Furlong is itching to get going again in the green jersey.
“I am because I have no game this weekend,” he maintained.
“I'm looking forward to watching the Leinster lads obviously but I suppose it's different.
“You can't be too ecstatic in training (about being in the Ireland squad) or talking about it too much because there are a lot of hurt people as well. It's a tricky dynamic, so it kinda goes untold in some ways. Or it does in Leinster anyway.
“It might be a quiet clap on the back to someone like Ross Byrne who is after getting in, but it's not openly talked about because there are people disappointed.”
Furlong downplayed any concerns that he would require game-time before the Wales clash, as the Wexford native is confident in his ability to hit the ground running for the start of the Six Nations.
“It's a hard one, I think you have to trust yourself a lot,” Furlong explained.
“And being experienced, I would have done it coming back in the 2021 Six Nations, when I came off a long lay-off with Covid and that, enforced.
“I got back in and you hit your groove pretty quick. A lot of it is just trying to stay engaged in the game and follow the habits because that's moving on quickly the whole time, and you just have to stay with it if you want to feel like you are on top of the ground playing the game, not watching it when you get back.
“The scrum is always tweaking, the way people are scrummaging, the actual scrum hasn't changed in a good few years, since the rule changes really. It's just different variations of what teams do, but it's not a monumental shift I would have said.
“The hardest thing about scrummaging is about finding your feel, it's one thing looking at it, but you have to feel good, you have to feel like you are in the right slot, you are so interdependent and reliant on everyone else in the scrum to make you feel good.
“Me vice versa, I could be doing something that off-puts a loosehead or a hooker or the second-row behind me.
“It's about getting up to speed on that quickly, sometimes it is slow. It can take a good few sessions to get into that and everyone on the same page.
“The Welsh regions are scrummaging very well, particularly Ospreys,” Furlong added, with an eye on what's coming down the tracks.
“You can do it in training. A lot of scrummaging is about trust. You trust a lot of what you have done in training and sticking with it in the game. Training is a big one.
“Even some of the non-live scrummaging, your setup, just sitting down at the computer with the lads, talking it through and feeling it out, just getting on a straight line with it.”