"I wasn't nervous about my back really but the possibility I could pick up another injury or anything, but then that could happen any time you go out on the pitch. If that had happened, it probably would have broken me."
As for targets, he insisted: "The plan was to play and see how I was. And then I'll start planning again from there. The hope would be to be involved in the next couple of Rabo games. The more games I can play the better and I think the Heineken Cup is definitely on for me."
Munster coach Rob Penney watched O'Connell in action with considerable satisfaction. "I'm really pleased for Paul that he got through 40 minutes and looked vigorous. I was watching him closely around the contact area, the areas you need to be robust and he could have been potentially compromised but he didn't look like he was flinching at any time. He looks like he is on the mend and on track for a little bit more footie in the next week or so."
Munster take on Harlequins in the Heineken Cup last eight at the Twickenham Stoop on Sunday, 7 April (2.00).