O'Donoghue happy to bide time in push for Ireland spot
Most rugby supporters who watched Munster back-rower Jack O'Donoghue develop in recent years believe he is on the fast track to the top, but the Waterford native claims he was shocked to be called into the Ireland squad during the Six Nations.
The 22-year old, a former Ireland U-18 and U-20 captain who has also skippered Munster 'A', has been outstanding for Anthony Foley's men all season.
He only made his debut against Zebre in September 2014 but a lot has happened in between and he now has 31 appearances under his belt as the Italians arrive in Thomond Park on Friday night.
He has chalked up 21 games for Munster this season and that form was rewarded with a call from Joe Schmidt.
"It was kind of a shock. I didn't really see myself in the Six Nations mix but it came and I'm delighted," he said. "When I got up there I was a bit nervous - you are thrown into the deep end.
"I was just sticking to what I do know and do well at Munster. I really enjoyed my experience and I know it will stand to me."
O'Donoghue is vying for a position in probably Ireland's strongest sector but reckons he learned a lot from his brief appearance in the squad.
"You see from the week with Ireland, that is the standard I need to get to and even though I mightn't be there physically and size-wise but at the end of the season if I can show that I can be a dominant back-row, I can push for Ireland in the next year or so," he said
The tour to South Africa may come too soon for the Waterpark man but he has been greatly encouraged by the displays of CJ Stander since making his Irish debut. And he said he is not remotely surprised that Stander has been such a hit.
"Absolutely not. You saw at the start of the season the way he was carrying for Munster, the amount of man of the match performances he's had, it was about time that he went on and showed the exact same thing for Ireland. He's a brute of a man running forward."
For now the focus is on Munster and getting into position first of all to claim a Champions Cup spot and then bid for a Pro12 play-off place, but he is looking no further than Friday's clash with Zebre where they will be looking to get back on track after last weekend's 37-28 loss away to Cardiff Blues.
"We need to bounce back we need a reaction from last weekend. It wasn't good enough. We went 8-0 up and then to have things finish the way they did it just wasn't satisfactory. To not even come away with a bonus point was even worse.
"This weekend we just need to get back to basics and get a win and then kick on from there."