The injury problems that dogged O'Connell throughout 2013 and prematurely ended his British & Irish Lions tour of Australia look to be behind him having featured in Ireland's final four matches of this year's Six Nations success.
Yet the 6ft 6in lock has revealed his concerns that the World Cup could be a step too far.
"I'd love to go to the World Cup but it's something you only want to do if you're in really good shape," he said.
"It's a massive difference. Even when I look back on some of the better years that I played my best rugby, in 2005, 2006, 2008, the year of the World Cup, they are down to big pre-seasons.
"But the game is becoming tougher and tougher, it's going to be a really tough Autumn internationals and really tough Six Nations, so really the World Cup for me is a long way away."