Monday 24 April 2017

I knew my ankle was ok when I was jumping around after Frankie's try

Player Diary: Tommy O'Donnell

Keith Earls and Francis Saili after Munster’s win over Racing in France. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Keith Earls and Francis Saili after Munster’s win over Racing in France. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Tommy O'Donnell

The past two weeks have been all about my recovery from the ankle injury I sustained in Paris, but after a week laid up, I'm ready to roll again tomorrow against Racing again.

It was a bit of an unfortunate incident. Just before the injury I kicked a ball down the pitch, and the foot that I kicked the ball with landed down on Casey Laulala's foot. All my weight came down through that and had nowhere to go except over on my ankle so I gave it a good wrenching.

At this stage I doubt I have any ligaments left in that ankle anyway from my various injuries over the years, so this one was just some bruising and swelling. It was nothing major.

I learned my lesson about trying to do the backs' job, but I think Tyler Bleyendaal learned a lesson in the incident too - I don't think he'll be telling me or any other back-row to kick again!

He passed to me and shouted 'kick', so I was just doing what I was told. I didn't see the ball land, I was too busy grabbing my ankle, but when I watched it back, I think it was one to be proud of, which is something I suppose!

Mobility

The week between Paris and Glasgow was all about plenty of icing and getting the mobility back into the ankle again. I had scans on the foot as soon as we got back from Paris, but even before the results came back, I had some physio on the injury to kick-start the recuperation.

You never know what's going on with an injury like that, you always fear it might be worse than it feels, but the physios had a pretty good idea what I'd done, so they eased my mind a little bit.

All the tests that they could do told me that I had just badly jammed up the joint rather than doing any major damage, and they were proved right.

Icing and compressing became the routine. With an injury like that, the aim is to get the swelling down, get it back to normal size and once you are there, the real work can begin.

Any time there is pain in an area, all the muscles stop working. What you need to do there is to get the muscles back working for you again. I had to do plenty of balance work early on in the week, get back running as soon as I could and build it up to changing direction by the end of the week.

Against Warriors, whatever the surface, we needed 15 players that were 100pc fit. There was no way I was able to take part in a physical, pacy game like that. That was clear to me from early on in the week.

I stayed back in Limerick to recuperate, but it didn't make for easy viewing. I was on the edge of the seat with my heart in my throat throughout.

I'm definitely a better player than supporter. When you're in control of a situation it's so much easier, especially when you know the plays and exactly what's happening.

We'd played Glasgow twice already this season and we know each other inside out. You could see everything, all the video analysis falling into place with two teams that know each other so well banging off each other.

The lads did brilliantly. The little scrap of possession they got to get the try was fantastic. I gave some leap out of the chair when Frankie Saili scored - I knew the ankle was okay after I was jumping around Cathal Sheridan's house.

It was a score of real ingenuity; it wasn't one we had worked on. The maul was planned, but after that it was some great play.

Frankie has worked really hard to get back fit after a few frustrating months for him and we're all delighted for him. It shows the player and personality he is - he is loved by every one of us, and even when he was injured he always had a smile on his face.

He never seems to have a simple dot-down either, there is always a big dive over the line, but if I get to see that six or seven more times this season, like the rest of the Munster fans, I'll be pretty happy.

The amount of supporters that travelled to Glasgow was remarked on by the players and coaches this week. So many of them made a big effort to follow us and that honestly means so much.

It makes such a difference away from home, making it feel like your own patch is a real lift to the team, so the supporters deserve thanks for that.

While the lads were preparing for the Glasgow match I did my first bit of running on my own at UL on Saturday. I did another longer session on Monday and then I took a full part in training with the boys on Tuesday. I got through it okay, which was a real relief.

So far I've had no ill effects. I've been pretty diligent all week in how I have managed it after training, so the hope is that I am deemed fit by the medics and then that I am called upon by the coaches.

Having a spot in the quarter-final wrapped up is a great comfort to us going in to this game, but the aim has to be to win again and get that quarter-final in Thomond Park.

It's a long time since we've had a home game in the knock-out stages and as special as the pool games have been this year, knock-out rugby brings an extra bite.

Racing might have looked like a beaten team when we left Paris, but we've all seen how well they recovered last weekend against a really good Leicester team.

They switched up a few things in defence and made huge improvements all over the park, and we are expecting a massive challenge from the proud French champions.

Maybe we caught them on a bad day, but we'll get nothing easy from them tomorrow, that's for sure. But the aim is simple: win again and it will be mission accomplished.

Irish Independent

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