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Donall Farmer/INPHO
# Pro12
Saracens on the horizon 'a little driver' for O'Donoghue as he takes aim at Glasgow
The powerful young back row ranks the win over Toulouse as a highlight of his career.

MUNSTER’S JACK O’DONOGHUE has a few objectives other than getting a win over Glasgow Warriors in the Pro12 tomorrow night.

The battle for back row places for Munster’s Champions Cup semi-final showdown, especially with a doubt over CJ Stander, is intense, while the 23-year old is also hoping to make it on the plane for the Irish tour to the USA and Japan in June.

The Waterford native, who made his Irish debut against Canada in November, knows this is a big opportunity to impress.

“You don’t want to wish an injury on anyone, but any time you get on the pitch, these opportunities arise for you and you have to take them with both hands.

“Going into the Glasgow game this weekend, that is an opportunity for me to put myself forward for the semi final in a few weeks time. That is going to be a little driver for me, but personally, getting a result this weekend is the key. You cannot be slipping up at this stage in the season.

Jack O’Donoghue and Francis Saili Dan Sheridan / INPHO Dan Sheridan / INPHO / INPHO

“There are only a couple of points between the teams. When it comes down to it, these are the kind of matches that we need to be winning and getting good results.”

He has already chalked up 57 appearances for Munster, having made his debut off the bench against Zebre in September 2014 after coming through the ranks with the province and various Irish age-grade sides.

O’Donoghue got a taste of the business end of the Champions Cup when he replaced Stander after 68 minutes in the superb 41-16 quarter-final win over Toulouse on Saturday.

“It was unbelievable. Coming into an atmosphere like that is probably one of my career highlights so far. It was one of the biggest games I have been involved in so far at the club. That is something I have in the back of my mind and in the bank going forward. If I am selected for a semi final, I have that.

Jack O'Donoghue Donall Farmer / INPHO Donall Farmer / INPHO / INPHO

“Maybe the nerves might not be that bad. In saying that, you are potentially going up against one of the best sides in the World. The reigning champions Saracens, that is going to be another factor which might bring on a bit of sickness, but last weekend was actually a career highlight, but the aim is to get many more memories in there and maybe create some history.”

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Ronan O’Gara added to the occasion when he came into the Munster dressingroom afterwards — and O’Donoghue hopes he is on board when the former Irish out-half is assisting with coaching duties for the Irish squad in the USA in June.

“He came in and chatted with some of the lads. He congratulated all of us. That is nice to see. I never got the chance to play or train with him, so it was nice for him to come up and congratulate you on the game.

It would be unbelievable to go over on tour with the Irish team. It would be another chance for me, personally, for my career to kick on again. I suppose that is a few months away at this stage. That tour might come into your head alright. There are some pre-tour mini camps. That is kind of parked for me though, 15 minutes at the weekend can be tough to catch Joe Schmidt’s eye, but hopefully 80 minutes at the weekend and some more the following weekend would help.

“I watched Leinster’s game at the weekend and they have some incredible back row performers there too. That is the competition you are up against. They are the lads you are competing with for a spot on the plane. I have to try and not concentrate too much on that at the moment, otherwise it would impact on my game too much. So If I can just keep a cool head, go out this weekend and get a performance under my belt,  I will be happy with that,” he added.

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