Ireland skipper Brian O'Driscoll returned to the training pitch on Tuesday for the first time since sustaining an ankle injury in October.
The 33-year-old Leinster star missed the autumn internationals after undergoing surgery to repair the injury he sustained playing against Cardiff Blues.
The centre stepped up his rehabilitation by joining in a session with the rest of the Leinster squad and will hope to be fit for when Ireland open their Six Nations campaign against Wales on 2 February.
And Leinster coach Joe Schmidt has some more good news for Ireland, with Rob Kearney and Luke Fitzgerald also nearing returns to competitive action.
Both backs also missed the autumn internationals, Kearney with a back injury while Fitzgerald has been out of action for much of this year with a neck problem.
"Brian is out there for his first onfield session and Rob Kearney is due out on the pitch next week," Schmidt told the Irish Independent.
"Luke is back on the pitch a while and we're looking at either the home game against Connacht at the RDS (Royal Dublin Showgrounds) on December 29 or for the Edinburgh match away at Murrayfield the following week."