Jamie Osborne in Ireland training. Laszlo Geczo/INPHO
Big School

Osborne learning the ropes as fully fledged member of Farrell's Ireland squad

The Leinster centre also addressed the early Six Nations form of his housemate, Ireland U20s out-half Sam Prendergast.

A FIRST TEST cap didn’t materialise in the opening two rounds of the Six Nations Championship, but that hasn’t stopped Jamie Osborne from embracing life as a fully fledged member of Andy Farrell’s Ireland senior set-up.

After spending one week in camp as a development player during the Autumn Nations Series in November 2021, Osborne featured for Ireland ‘A’ against an All Blacks XV at the RDS 12 months later. While he was effectively training alongside the main squad in this latter period, it wasn’t until Farrell unveiled his 37-man selection for this year’s Six Nations that the Kildare man truly found himself in the elite international reckoning.

Given he was the only uncapped name in the group that was originally announced for the tournament – his provincial colleague Michael Milne, Munster’s Roman Salanoa and Ulster hooker Tom Stewart have since joined him – it is easy to understand why Osborne didn’t figure in the match day 23 for the wins to date over Wales and France. He is one of five Leinster players to be released back to the province for their United Rugby Championship clash with Dragons this coming Saturday and will hope a strong performance against the Welsh region can serve as the launchpad for an eventual Six Nations debut.

“I think everyone makes it so easy, it’s such a good atmosphere in the squad. Everyone is encouraged to be themselves. It probably helps that there are so many Leinster players in there for me,” Osborne remarked at a Leinster media briefing on Monday ahead of the Dragons game.

“I had a couple of chats [with the coaches] in the first week of camp. All they want is to try and get me up to speed with everything, get me to understand how they want to attack and defend. I’m just trying my best to do that in training.

I think it helped that I had been in before because I kind of knew what to expect. The first time I went in I was probably really nervous because I was a development player and probably didn’t feel as part of the squad as I do now.

“This time I’m more comfortable, so nothing has really shocked me.”

jamie-osborne Kildare man Jamie Osborne. Dan Sheridan / INPHO Dan Sheridan / INPHO / INPHO

Thanks to the inclusion of Milne for the week of the French game, an astonishing 21 Leinster players have been a part of the Ireland camp for the opening block of the Six Nations. Although the structures and methods deployed by the international coaching team are closely aligned to what he experiences at the provincial grade, the Naas man nevertheless acknowledged there is a marked difference that separates these two levels of the game.

“It is quite similar. What we want to do here [with Leinster] and with Ireland is play the space early. You can see how quick the lads are getting set to attack and the amount of options that they have on the ball.

“It is very similar, but I’d say at that level, you have much less time to make your decision. Much less time on the ball. I suppose it goes up a step compared to provincial. Training has definitely been tough, but I think it’s going well.”

Meanwhile, less than two years on from lining out in the same tournament, Osborne is now watching on as his housemate and fellow Lilywhite Sam Prendergast turns heads for Ireland in the U20s Six Nations. The younger brother of Connacht lock Cian Prendergast (who is also a part of the Irish senior squad), the Leinster academy out-half kicked 18 points at Musgrave Park last Friday as Richie Murphy’s side maintained their push for a second successive underage Grand Slam with a 33-31 victory over France.

sam-prendergast The spotlight on Sam Prendergast. Evan Treacy / INPHO Evan Treacy / INPHO / INPHO

He also shone brightly in an opening round success against Wales with an outlandish offload for a James Nicholson try gaining the seal of approval from former New Zealand star Sonny Bill Williams on social media. This led to his elder sibling attempting to keep him grounded, but Osborne doesn’t feel there’s any danger of Prendergast getting ahead of himself.

“I was talking to Cian and he was trying to knock him down a peg or two. His head was getting a bit too big! No, no to be fair, he hasn’t talked about it at all,” Osborne said of Williams’ praise for the Newbridge College graduate.

“He’s definitely cool, calm and confident in himself. He loves rugby, watches a lot of rugby. He has trained a good bit up here [Leinster] and definitely shown that he has great potential. I’ve been delighted for him that he’s been going so well.”

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