tullow tank

Sean O'Brien was an absolute beast at the breakdown against Scotland

These four turnovers from the Ireland captain showed his quality on the deck.

WHILE DAVID POCOCK, Richie McCaw, Sam Warburton and a host of others will hope to be king of the breakdown at the World Cup, Ireland have a few scavengers of their own who might challenge for the title.

The likes of Rory Best, Peter O’Mahony and Paul O’Connell are all strong on the deck, while Sean O’Brien produces regularly turnovers too.

The Tullow man started as he means to go on this season against Scotland on Saturday, winning no less than four turnovers.


Three of the turnovers O’Brien won came in the form of penalties, and for the first of them (above) he benefited from the excellent work of Jack Conan.

Both Conan and O’Brien appeared to have their hands on the ground supporting their body weight but referee Pascal Gaüzère was happy with their efforts and awarded the penalty.

The next time O’Brien struck (below) he was flying solo, although the clever tackle of Chris Henry on Tim Visser left Scotland susceptible to the poach.


The third time O’Brien pounced, it came in an even more crucial area of the pitch as Ireland defended inside their 22. Blair Cowan carried, Gordon D’Arcy tackled low and firm, then O’Brien struck before Jon Welsh arrived at the breakdown.


The second half saw O’Brien finally win a clean turnover of the ball and set up a counter-attacking opportunity, as we see below.

Richie Vernon was the man to carry on this occasion, with O’Brien’s lightning-fast actions allowing him onto the ball before Peter Horne could hit him, the Ireland captain showing his strength again to remain in the fight until he’d made the turnover.


Aside from the four turnovers we see above, O’Brien repeatedly competed to slow the Scotland ball at the breakdown, while also throwing himself gleefully into a number of counter-rucks.

Like his Ireland teammates, O’Brien will only get better with more game time and training in the next month, but it’s not a bad starting point. The breakdown will be absolutely pivotal and the ‘Tullow Tank’ looks in good shape ahead of the World Cup.

What did you make of O’Brien’s breakdown display and how does he compare to other World Cup back rows? Do you agree with Gaüzère’s decisions in these examples? Was O’Brien legal for all of them?

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