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Dublin: 13°C Sunday 9 May 2021

'There was nothing really there for me in Leinster': Oliver enjoying life down south

22-year-old flanker pushing for more opportunities after coming through injury layoff.

Oliver speaking in Limerick earlier this week.
Oliver speaking in Limerick earlier this week.
Image: Bryan Keane/INPHO

PROMISING MUNSTER FLANKER Conor Oliver is looking forward to a huge finish to the season after missing most of it through injury.

The 22-year-old earned rave reviews from Rassie Erasmus during his breakthrough campaign last season but just when he was ready to push on, he suffered a shoulder injury during the summer which sidelined him until after Christmas.

The former Ireland U20 international made his return against Connacht over the festive period and got another 80 minutes under his belt last weekend against Zebre.

And now Munster’s academy player of the season last year wants to make his mark with a possible Champions Cup debut in the offing.

“The injury was very long so I had a bit of time to get perspective on what I wanted from my career and where I wanted to go.

“I had to step back from rugby in the initial period of the surgery. I was just sitting at home really and you have a lot of thinking time to do and you make yourself got a bit crazy. But once you get back in around the environment you start to see how things have changed.

“Maybe being injured and the coaches changing. I saw a bit of change in the way we were coached and stuff. But it’s just a matter of getting used to it really. I am used to it now, it was an easy transition from the coaches changing.”

Erasmus was a huge fan of Oliver and new coach Johann van Graan has now seen at first hand what the Dublin native is capable of, after a man of the match performance against Connacht and another huge display last weekend.

He has now made 18 appearances for Munster, having made his debut two years ago against Glasgow in Kilmarnock, and has no regrets about moving to Limerick, having played underage all the way up with Leinster.

Conor Oliver with Andrew Claypole Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

“There was nothing really there for me in Leinster. I didn’t really know what I wanted to do in college, but I knew I wanted to be a professional rugby player.

“The minute I got the chance, especially with Munster and their history and how good of a club it is. I didn’t even have to think twice about it, the minute the opportunity came up I just took it with both hands,” he added.

Oliver recently signed a new two-year contract, having being bumped up to a senior deal in the summer after his superb displays as an academy player.

Making the Champions Cup squad is the next target and with the quarter-final against Toulon fast coming down the tracks, these games during the Six Nations are a golden opportunity to impress.

“Even last year this window is massive for the younger guys coming through and trying to get a bit experience. You have to try and put your best foot forward, try and give the coaches a few headaches about selection and stuff.

“You always look forward to this block because you get your opportunity to showcase what you can do, and especially coming back from a long-term injury. I was waiting and this was a good time for me to come back now and try and get a good run of games in before the guys come back from camp.”

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