'I'd feel confident of doing the job' - O'Brien raring to go for Six Nations

The Leinster back row got through 50 minutes of impressive action on his return from injury.

O'Brien was impressive on his return from injury.
O'Brien was impressive on his return from injury.
Image: Billy Stickland/INPHO

SEAN O’BRIEN EXPRESSED his understandable pleasure at being back on the pitch after the Ireland Wolfhound’s 19-8 defeat to the England Saxons in Cork this evening, while reporting that his shoulder had come through unscathed.

The Leinster back row has endured an horrific 14 months that featured two shoulder reconstructions, but gave an impressive 51-minute showing for the Wolfhounds a week out from the Six Nations.

O’Brien now comes firmly into contention to feature in Joe Schmidt’s side for next Saturday’s opener in Rome, and the openside says he would confident of doing a job.

“Obviously disappointed to lose the game,” said O’Brien post-match as Musgrave Park. “I struggled after 20 minutes, blew up, but I was expecting that myself. Overall, just happy to be back out there and get 50 [minutes] under my belt.”

Asked about the prospect of playing against the Italians, O’Brien admitted to being unsure as to where Schmidt’s thinking was, although the flanker declared himself ready.

I’m not sure really,” said O’Brien. “Ideally I’d like more game time under my belt before next week, but there’s no opportunities between now and then. We’ll see what happens. I’d usually prefer to get two or three games under my belt, but with the short window that’s not possible.

“I’d say everyone’s in with a chance and Joe did say today was an opportunity for lads to stick up their hand. You don’t know what way Joe is thinking or how he’ll approach the game next weekend.

“If I was selected I’d feel confident of doing the job at some stage in the game. Obviously I wouldn’t last 80 minutes in an international game, but I’d be confident of adding to the squad.”

As for his left shoulder, which has seen such damage in the last year or so, O’Brien reported no ill effects after a bruising encounter with a hugely physical Saxons side.

Richardt Strauss congratulates Sean O'Brien as he leaves the field O'Brien was called ashore in the second half. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

“No reaction, that was the pleasing thing,” said the Leinster man. “I’ll take a bit of confidence from that. I was going a bit high at times but there was no effect on the shoulder, nothing like that. I was pleased in that sense.

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“I got over the ball and took a few hits as well, so I’m happy enough.

Everything in training is in a controlled environment and it’s set up for you. Out there, you don’t know what’s going to happen. It’s good that I got into different positions and got hit at different angles, and it never budged.”

Many injury returnees speak of a rustiness in their skill set, and O’Brien certainly experienced that feeling in Musgrave Park.

“Absolutely I did, big time around the ruck area and that. I’ve been out for a while now and there’s nothing like games to get you back into the swing of things. I’ll go back and look at what I did out there and get back into training.

“That’s what I want to be at now, I want to get a run of games. I don’t want any injuries.”

That there is so much more to come from O’Brien only adds to the pre-Six Nations excitement.

4 Wolfhounds who put their hands up for Six Nations selection

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Murray Kinsella

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