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'He absolutely has to be right in the mix for that squad in New Zealand'

Munster’s Jack O’Donoghue has taken his game to another level.

Jack O'Donoghue is in excellent form for Munster.
Jack O'Donoghue is in excellent form for Munster.
Image: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

MUNSTER MAN JACK O’Donoghue is playing some of the best rugby of his career and is now pushing for a place in Ireland’s squad to tour New Zealand this summer.

The 28-year-old’s latest performance against Exeter in the Champions Cup last weekend drew plenty of attention on yesterday’s edition of The42 Rugby Weekly Extra podcast, which is available exclusively to members of The42 every Monday and Wednesday.

Eoin Toolan and Murray Kinsella both felt it was the best showing yet from Waterford man O’Donoghue.

Murray: “I wanted to come back to Jack O’Donoghue because this was just another level in terms of what he has been delivering, which has been so consistently excellent for Munster – we’ve mentioned it loads of times on this podcast.

“He has been phenomenal the last couple of weeks. In the game last weekend, he was Munster’s top ball-carrier with 10, he was the top tackler with 23 at 100% success rate, he was top for ruck arrivals on Munster’s ball with 23 and then at the defensive ruck, he had the most arrivals as well with 15.

“You mentioned his passing, he had five passes and an offload as well. Then all his maul and lineout work, which is always of the highest calibre.

“He has become such an important player for Munster, even with his switches across the back row. People are wondering about whether he will be back in Ireland contention, and absolutely he deserves to be, but we’ve got to just celebrate the fact that he’s a phenomenal player for Munster too.”

jack-odonoghue-wins-a-lineout O'Donoghue wins a lineout for Munster. Source: Ben Brady/INPHO

Eoin: “Absolutely. You talk about competition in the back row in an Ireland context but even down in Munster, they breed them well down there.

“You would feel that Jack O’Donoghue is the heir apparent to Peter O’Mahony whenever O’Mahony does retire. 

“If Gavin Coombes stays at eight, you just think Jack O’Donoghue will be that six for Munster for many years. His all-round game is of a very high level.

“That match-winning try, look at how square he is able to stay at the line and pull that link pass back, it’s a good sign that he has that ball-playing ability. He has really good footwork at the line, can find soft shoulders, he’s a natural footballer, has an ability to offload through contact, and his set-piece stuff is on point as well.

“It was probably the best performance from him at that high level against a top-class Exeter outfit. His performance bodes well for him going forward.”

Murray: “Even if you look at player profile, he is similar to Peter O’Mahony in that he has pushed his lineout defence, his maul work. I think he’s one of the leading proponents of that defensively in the country.

“He almost suffers because Peter O’Mahony is there, even though they played really well together again last weekend. He does feel like the heir apparent even with his leadership.

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irelands-jack-odonoghue O'Donoghue won two caps for Ireland in the 2016/17 season. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

“Mike Sherry was on this podcast before saying that he sees Jack O’Donoghue as that next leader for Munster.

“It’s fascinating to see what happens next and if Ireland bring that big squad to New Zealand, which we will come back to later, then O’Donoghue absolutely has to be right in that mix.”

Elsewhere on yesterday’s edition of The42 Rugby Weekly Extra, Eoin and Murray discussed Munster’s breakdown qualities, while they also focused in on how Ulster let their opportunity against Ulster slip.

The lads discussed 21-year-old Ethan McIlroy’s superb form for Ulster, while also looking at Leinster’s decision to leave their front-liners at home for their current tour of South Africa.

With the play-off race heating up in the URC, Eoin and Murray discussed what lies ahead, and they also dug into the latest action in Super Rugby Pacific, where the Blues beat the Crusaders in a brilliant game.

To get access to The42 Rugby Weekly Extra, which also comes out every Monday with Gavan Casey, Bernard Jackman, and Murray Kinsella, become a member of The42 at members.the42.ie.

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