herald

Tuesday 12 December 2017

O'Brien plays down monster hit to focus on next game

Ireland’s Sean O’Brien at the launch of the Bord Bia Ham and Bacon campaign in Dublin yesterday
Ireland’s Sean O’Brien at the launch of the Bord Bia Ham and Bacon campaign in Dublin yesterday

SEAN O'BRIEN'S latest viral sensation is a monstrous clearout in the ninth minute of the victory over France, where the ball spurts out of the scrum.

Conor Murray scampers back to rescue possession and Jamie Heaslip holds off the on-rushing French back-row, who smell blood.

Heaslip holds off the initial onslaught, before the Tullow Tank arrives to lift Bernard Le Roux and Rory Kockott into the air. So far, more than 100,000 people have watched the clip on the RBS Six Nations' official Youtube channel.

O'Brien himself hasn't been able to avoid the incident, but he isn't getting carried away, preferring to focus on the clear-outs that didn't go his way as he looks to improve on his return to international rugby in his second game back next week.

"I've seen it alright," he said almost ruefully. "Hard not to!

"There were lots of rucks that I didn't clear out well. I was rusty. I missed a couple of tackles and stuff. Things like that. Hopefully that'll be better next week."

That rust is fully understandable after O'Brien spent most of the last 12 months on the sidelines and he feels that time on the pitch is helping him re-acclimatise to life in the Test arena.

With Jamie Heaslip now out, there is further emphasis on the Leinster back-row to deliver with ball in hand, while adding his characteristic power around the park.

"The body needs a bit of recovery now after being on for that long last week," he said.

"You have done so much work but you are carrying a lot through those weeks. To play an international you have to train hard all week and then go out and do it all over again. Then you get your break. It is difficult but it is something that is very well managed.

"Getting through 50 minutes, it's unbelievable what it does for you the following week.

"You can do all the running you want but games is what you need. Once you get minutes under your belt you get better every time.

"That's just a natural progression and it's always been the case with me. If you get two or three games then you get really fit."

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