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'We're all delighted. He's had a rough road over the last two years'

Connacht man Sean O’Brien made his return last weekend after two years of injuries.

Sean O'Brien has had a tough time with injuries.
Sean O'Brien has had a tough time with injuries.
Image: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

THE DELIGHT AMONG his Connacht team-mates was clear last weekend in Italy as Sean O’Brien powered over for a 22nd-minute try on his long-awaited return from injury.

O’Brien’s last start for Connacht before that win over Zebre had been all the way back in December 2018.

The 25-year-old has essentially spent the last two years injured. He did make a brief comeback off the bench in November 2019 but had to undergo shoulder surgery after being injured in that defeat to Leinster. He has had a foot injury in the meantime too.

To call it a nightmare couple of seasons for O’Brien would be an understatement but he is happily back in action now and started at blindside flanker last weekend, coming through 50 minutes of action unscathed and showing some of his quality.

“It was great to see him back out there,” said Connacht prop Denis Buckley. “He’s had a pretty rough road over the last two years really. He got back out there last year but played about 10 minutes and then did his shoulder and was out again for a long time.

“We’re all delighted to see him back out there and you could see why he’s so important to us. Straight away, he performed like he hasn’t missed anything. A year out is not easy to do so it says a lot about how talented he is.

“When we have him firing on all cylinders, he just brings that little bit of brutality to our pack that can give you the edge over other teams. We’re all delighted because we get to see how hard he works. It can be pretty tough when you’re in the gym all the time, just watching lads play.”

It remains to be seen if O’Brien features again tomorrow in the Pro14 against the Ospreys in Galway but his return to fitness is certainly a big boost for Connacht.

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sean-obrien O'Brien was at blindside flanker last weekend. Source: Sighinolfi Luca/INPHO

The former Ireland U20 captain can also play in the second row and Connacht head coach Andy Friend is thrilled to have him back in the mix.

“It’s just great having him back on the park,” said Friend. “He has had such a tough two years but he keeps fronting up.

“There has been a lot of patience from a lot of staff but more so from Sean just to stay on task.

“Everyone is delighted to see him named, then start, then score that try, then come off the field subbed and not injured.

“Hopefully, he’s ready again this week.”

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