O'Brien has no problems with schedule

Sean O'Brien has denied Ireland are close to breaking point as they prepare for the penultimate game of an 11-month season.

The Leinster flanker was part of the Irish squad that assembled for the pre-World Cup training camps in July of last year and has just completed a Heineken Cup-winning season. But O'Brien, who was one of the shining lights in an Ireland team that were overpowered 42-10 by New Zealand last Saturday, rejected the notion that the fixture schedule was too punishing.

"I don't think it is," he said. "We know the schedule. We know we have another two Tests. After that, we can think about holidays or whatever but we have two games to play, two Tests, and we will be going hard."

He added: "It is easy to lift yourself up for the world champions. This is where you want to be and who you want to test yourself against. It gives you a good idea of where you are as a rugby player."

The 25-year-old sat out training in Auckland as he is on a reduced training programme following surgery on his injured knee in May.

He insisted there was nothing to worry about ahead of Saturday's second Test in Christchurch, though.

"The body is not too bad. I'm getting my recovery done," he said.

Connacht prop Ronan Loughney, meanwhile, is set for another taste of Test rugby after making his debut at the weekend.

Fellow front-rowers Cian Healy (shoulder) and Mike Ross (hamstring) took no part in training on Tuesday, meaning he is likely to see more game time in the rematch.