Saturday 21 October 2017

O'Loughlin eager to seize every opportunity

Leinster's Rory O'Loughlin. Photo: Seb Daly/Sportsfile
Leinster's Rory O'Loughlin. Photo: Seb Daly/Sportsfile
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

Rory O'Loughlin grew up relishing the chance to go and watch Leinster's derby clashes with Munster and now the 22-year-old is hoping to play in one.

The centre impressed in pre-season and has done enough to already feature in the Pro12 but the opportunity to play against Leinster's arch rivals at the Aviva Stadium would be on another level.

Competition for places is rife in the Leinster back-line but Leo Cullen has already singled O'Loughlin out for praise.

The return of Robbie Henshaw will only heighten the level of competition but O'Loughlin is nevertheless happy to be contention.

"This week would be incredible," he enthused. "I live down the road from the Aviva. I'm not sure yet but if I got the opportunity I'd grab it with two hands.

"My first one (derby) was in Donnybrook with my dad. I rarely missed them as a kid, always went with my dad aged eight or nine. That's when I started playing rugby.

"Brian O'Driscoll was the one that every kid was looking at. And he was in my position, I always played centre so he was an idol.

"The two semi-finals were just an amazing influence. The Croke Park game stands out, the best I've seen. Moments that I will never forget. The intercept stands out in my mind anyway."

O'Loughlin played the full 80 minutes in the gritty win over Cardiff last weekend and he has understandably taken plenty of confidence from that.

"I was happy to get through the 80 minutes, I hadn't played 80 minutes in a while," he said.

"It was the biggest game I have ever played in and it was important to show the coaches that I could be trusted. Getting the win added to it.

"A few of the older boys took me aside and settled me down before the game, told me to keep doing what I was doing in the pre-season games and focus on my own stuff. As the game went on, I became more and more comfortable."

Instinct

Playing alongside the likes of Johnny Sexton will only accelerate O'Loughlin's progress and he is relishing the chance to train with that calibre of player every day.

"The big breaks come, you don't think about making them, they come on instinct," O'Loughlin maintained.

"Whereas missing a tackle or making a bad pass is more under your control, you're expected to make those passes, you're expected to make those tackles. So for me, just making those tackles, throwing those passes, that is what makes me comfortable getting into a match."

O'Loughlin will be hoping for more of the same if he gets the chance tomorrow.

Irish Independent

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