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Surgery can wait as Sean O'Brien targets World Cup success

The Connacht lock will lead Mike Ruddock’s squad during next month’s tournament in New Zealand.

Ireland U20 captain Sean O'Brien
Ireland U20 captain Sean O'Brien
Image: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

“WE’VE HAD PAUL O’CONNELL and Jamie Heaslip in here, in the past, and that lad who takes the kicks.”

‘Jonny Sexton?’ we asked the Price Waterhouse Cooper employee. “Yes, that’s him.”

It is little wonder that Ireland U20 captain Sean O’Brien is willing to play through some minor discomfort. The Connacht lock took his seat in the panoramic offices of PwC — following in the imprints of Irish players that are now Six Nations champions — and it was hard not to notice the protective boot around his ankle and foot. The optics were far from ideal but O’Brien declared himself fit to lead his country at the Junior World Championship.

He told TheScore.ie: “What’s happened is I’ve had a [foot] fracture but it is only a small one. There’s no danger of me doing any extra damage on it by playing. I might have to get an operation after the World Cup.”

The doctor has just told me that there is not a massive chance of me doing any extra harm to it and I don’t really want to miss the World Cup to be honest with you… I may not play in another World Cup.”

Ireland have been grouped with France, Wales and Fiji. Despite losses to the European sides in the Six Nations, O’Brien is confident his team can do what no Irish U20 side has done before — win a JWC.  ”People have the perception of us as a mediocre team,” he said. “I really don’t think we are. We have a squad of players that are good enough to challenge for the World Cup. That is my aspiration, to win the World Cup.

“That [feeling] runs through the whole squad. We have to right that wrong and the way to do that is to go out there and win our games and hopefully go on to win the World Cup.”

Ronan Murphy, Peadar Timmins, Alex Wootton and Sean OÕBrien 15/5/2014 Peadar Timmins, Ronan Murphy (PwC Senior Partner), Alex Wootton and Captain Sean O’Brien (with protective boot circled). Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Connacht flanker Jake Heenan will be back home in New Zealand during the championship and has promised O’Brien he will get along to cheer Ireland on. He is hopeful that new signing Mils Muliaina might drop by the North Harbour stadium too. “Jeez, that would be nice. It would be great to look over and see Mils Muliaina watching us.

“It’s a fantastic signing. 100 caps for New Zealand. It’s not often that any province in Ireland gets a player like that so it is great for Connacht to have him.”

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Patrick McCarry

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