Saturday 19 August 2017

'Phenomenon' O'Callaghan to go on

Worcester Warriors' Donncha O'Callaghan. Photo: Getty Images
Worcester Warriors' Donncha O'Callaghan. Photo: Getty Images
David Kelly

David Kelly

Donncha O'Callaghan may continue playing professional rugby into his fifth decade after agreeing an undisclosed contract to extend his current stay at English Premiership side Worcester Warriors.

A month after his 38th birthday, the former Munster two-time European Cup winner and Irish Grand Slam-winning second-row decided to spurn the opportunity to continue his career in France by penning a new deal to remain in England.

Described as a "phenomenon" by Director of Rugby Gary Gold, who may now extend his own stay with the club after guaranteeing the club's Premiership status since arriving in January, O'Callaghan has also accepted the club captaincy.

The Cork man spent 17 seasons at Munster and won 94 Irish caps before deciding to leave two summers ago after he found himself surplus to requirements.

In his first season at Sixways, he played in every single Premiership game and has yet again been an all-important component of the side this season, having made 19 appearances in this campaign.

The 2005 Lions starting lock alongside then captain Paul O'Connell, O'Callaghan led Worcester for the first time in January against Enisei-STM in the European Challenge Cup.

Gold's arrival coincided with him getting the position permanently and his first task was to lead his side to a memorable victory against reigning English and European champions Saracens in February.

Since taking over the captaincy, O'Callaghan's Warriors have been on a remarkable run which has seen them rack up 17 points in seven games, including wins over Bristol and Bath.

O'Callaghan's passionate approach on and off the field has seen him become a firm favourite amongst the Warriors' faithful and he was also named the Supporters Club Player of the Season in 2016.

"Our recent form has been reasonably encouraging and that provides us with a decent platform for next season," says O'Callaghan.

"People often talk about what Warriors can become but it really is time we started to deliver consistent success on the field. Nothing else is acceptable.

"I believe we have the staff and the squad to compete in the Premiership next season, and I am really excited by the challenge."

Irish Independent

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