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Tomás O'Leary: English Premiership is much tougher than the PRO12

The Ireland scrum-half believes there are no easy games in England and has his eyes set on an international comeback.

Tomás O'Leary at the London launch of the Amlin Challenge Cup.
Tomás O'Leary at the London launch of the Amlin Challenge Cup.
Image: ©INPHO/Andrew Fosker

HE MAY BE only five games into his playing career at London Irish but Tomás O’Leary is already convinced he is in for one hell of a season.

The former Munster scrum-half has settled in well at the Majedski Stadium, scoring a try against Gloucester in his second game and playing a key role in five of The Exiles’ seven scores.

However, the club finds itself just above bottom-placed Sale in the Premiership and O’Leary told TheScore.ie that the level of rugby takes some getting used to.

“As a league,” he said, “it is a lot more intense. Over here it is big game, after game, after game. There is no easy week.” O’Leary added:

The intensity is a lot higher than in the Rabo (Pro12). There is a big discrepancy in the top four in the Rabo and the rest.

“I’m playing four and fives in a row, week on week. I haven’t done that in years.

“I’m enjoying the physical challenge but if we were winning more it would be even better.”

No rotation policies

O’Leary played 127 games for Munster over seven seasons before opting to leave, he says, for a ‘fresh challenge’ and due to limited playing time.

“Even if you were deemed the number one scrum-half at Munster,” he said, “you might only play once in every two or three weeks.”

The Cork native says the increase in his playing load has left him in the best shape his has felt in years.

“Hopefully, in the next couple of weeks, you’ll see that I’m sharper and much improved,” he said.

Ian Humphreys, who has played at out-half beside O’Leary this season, believes it is only a matter of time before the scrum-half is recalled to the Ireland international squad.

O’Leary commented, “I’d love to play for Ireland again and get more international recognition.” He added:

I have to concentrate on my club career, start playing more, playing well and be successful here. If the recognition comes at that stage then it comes.

“If not, I’m happy to give my all here at London Irish.”

With club captain Declan Danaher unable to attend due to a knock he sustained last weekend, O’Leary represented The Exiles at the Heineken and Amlin Challenge Cup launch in London on Monday.

“European rugby is pretty exciting and there is often less pressure so you can go out and give it a real go,” he said.

What do you think – is the English Premiership a tougher test than the PRO12?


Poll Results:

No (180)
Yes (120)


Read: Heineken Cup: Provincial captains talk up their side’s trophy chances

Read: Eric Elwood: If I won Euromillions I’d sign Richie McCaw myself

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About the author:

Patrick McCarry

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