Ireland's Sean O'Brien, Joey Carbery eye Six Nations return

Sean O'Brien hopes to be back for Ireland's Six Nations campaign which kicks off against France Feb. 3. Brendan Moran/Sportsfile via Getty Images

Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt received a Six Nations fitness boost with the news that Leinster back row Sean O'Brien and utility back Joey Carbery are nearing a return.

O'Brien, who has played just 276 minutes this season for Leinster, hasn't featured since the Champions Cup win over Exeter on Dec. 16 and appeared in that game despite problems with his hip.

But with the Six Nations and a probable Champions Cup quarterfinal approaching, he won't be rushed back.

"You learn as you get on a little bit that there's no point in it," O'Brien said. "If it was a final this weekend then yeah you could push it up but with what lies ahead as well you'd be in doubt or probably do something worse to it.

"I've taken my time and just made sure it's right because there are loads of lads at the minute playing really well so there's no point in me going out there 50 percent when there are lads that are playing at 100."

Carbery, meanwhile, hopes to return from a broken arm in time for Leinster's final Champions Cup clash to prove his fitness ahead of the Six Nations.

"It's feeling pretty good, I'm back on pitch this week," Carbery said. "I'm not too sure about when I'll be back playing but hopefully in the next few weeks. It's kind of more just get back on the pitch and see what I can and can't do, but it's feeling a lot better anyway."