10 Dec, 12:23
Ireland's John Lacey will referee his first ever RBS 6 Nations match in February, while Alain Rolland is also included in the Elite Panel in what is his last season.
Everyone is doing well and his arrival probably stopped me brooding about the injury as much as I would have without such a wonderful distraction. We've had loads of visitors to the house, it's been a great time for Emily and I in that regard.
It's been tough getting on top of the injury, a problem that has been compounded by what appears to be an infection in the area.
I was treated with an anti-inflammatory injection, had all my bloods but there was an underlying problem that couldn't be detected. Since I have started taking the antibiotics, there has been a significant improvement but not sufficient for me to play in the Biarritz match.
I went to see a specialist, Peter Bruckner, who was recently announced as the new head of sports medicine and sports science at the Liverpool Football Club - I put aside my Everton prejudices - training facility in West Derby, Liverpool, complete with my five MRI scans.
He assured me that the Munster medical team had done everything that he would have to find out the cause of the problem and that my care had been exemplary. Hopefully now I am on the mend for good. I just want to get back playing.
I'll be travelling to San Sebastian with Munster and have been working on the lineouts as I normally would but I have to confess that come Sunday I'll find the experience of being in the stands very difficult. I am the world's worst when it comes to watching games, jumping round the place and getting quite agitated.
Given my enforced sabbatical from rugby and away from baby-minding duties, I have managed to catch up on a bit of reading, a brilliant book called 'The Big Short' by Michael Lewis and watching 'The Pacific' on television - not yet as good as Band of Brothers.
I also attended the JP McManus Pro-Am launch and got to meet Martin O'Neill and managed a chat with Padraig Harrington. It was a fun evening and a perfect antidote in taking my mind off the rugby for a while.
Paul's blog is updated regularly on www.bethedifference.ie.
You can follow Paul on twitter - www.twitter.com/Paul_OConnell.