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Sunday 22 October 2017

O'Connell is the inspiration for Reds

Munster played in the image of their primary leader on Saturday night, Ireland captain Paul O'Connell.

"Yeah, that man just shows up when he wants. He's just an animal," said openside Tommy O'Donnell.

"He's still going, he's still training hard as ever. He's still that guy that everybody looks up to in the gym.

"He's the guy we all look to in training. It's just great to see him play well and going as well as ever."

O'Connell sets standards for Munster and for Ireland too. The November internationals are just around the bend. Joe Schmidt has already lost Cian Healy, Sean O'Brien, Donnacha Ryan and Keith Earls, to name just four.

"Every player wants to play for Ireland and you have to beat the Irish provinces. You have to play well in front of the Irish selectors to get on that team," said O'Donnell.

Of course, Ulster's Chris Henry had taken over from O'Brien last season as the Tullow flanker recovered from a shoulder injury and post-operative infection.

At the same time, O'Donnell was stalled in his progression and Henry simply did what he has always done - improved.

The fizz is back in O'Donnell and he is bubbling to feel the green jersey on his back again.

"It's all very well when you're playing in different competitions, in different groups of the European Cup against different teams on different days.

"The real selection comes down to what you can do against your Irish team-mates or counterparts".

Joe Schmidt took note.

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