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.
"I never thought I wouldn't get back in time, I didn't really let myself think that way. I always tried to remain as positive as I could (with the injury). There was no point in being negative. I never had a moment of doubt.
"Preparing for the World Cup and not being able to do the physical stuff was strange. Rarely do you have an injury that allows you take part in everything apart from the contact aspect. It was great though that I was still able to do the rugby fitness, to keep my skill work going, to be at training and listening in. Even though I wasn't in any of the defensive stuff, I was able to do patterns and so on.
"You also learn from being out and being patient. And when you're given a certain period of time you're expected to be out and you do manage to come back a little early, that's always an added bonus that sometimes comes with working hard. "Now, it's a case of throwing yourself back in. Early in the week, I had my first contact session and I was a little more cautious going into contact but that's just a natural thing particularly when you've been opened up.
"The pain has gone a good while ago. I won't be wearing any protection, just a bit of Vaseline and I'm sure I'll be grand. I've been fortunate and I'm glad to be sitting here and looking forward to playing in the first game."
ON HIS AND THE SQUAD'S AMBITIONS FOR THE WORLD CUP:
"It has been said in the media that we're the best prepared Irish team ever going to a World Cup. I'd like to go with that. This is my third World Cup but preparation is nothing if you don't perform in the pool stages. And obviously with the opposition that we're facing, there is the potential for disaster.
"First and foremost, you try to get out of your pool and then you reassess after that. You can't start calling at this stage whether you'd be happy with a semi-final or a final or winning. First and foremost, we must find ourselves in the knock-out stages.
"For now, we have a chance to throw down a marker and show everyone what we're here to do. Really top sides show respect for the smaller nations by playing flat-out for 80 minutes and scoring as many points as possible. Perhaps things haven't gone that smoothly in the warm-up games but that is behind us now. We are here in Bordeaux and hungry for action.
"We're fortunate to have Namibia and Georgia in the lead-up to the French game because we're not where we want to be at just yet. The squad is going to come into that. You're not going to play the same team for five, six, seven weeks in a row. You've got to have a little rotation. I think we possibly learned from the last World Cup on that front."