LEINSTER’S Sean O’Brien is the Guinness Rugby Writers of Ireland Player of the Year.
The explosive back rower received his reward at the annual awards ceremony at The Aviva Stadium last night. Last season, the ‘Tullow Tank’ surged to the forefront of the game at club and international level. O’Brien started all of Leinster’s nine Heineken Cup matches, scoring four tries and picking up three Man of the Match awards. He also started all of the 2011 Six Nations matches, this time picking up the Man of the Match award against Italy.
“The pre-season has been good,” reported the Leinster man. “I was happy with the way it went. I’m feeling strong and fast, and they are the two things in particular I was focusing on. “A couple of games and I’ll get match fit. I’m looking forward to the next few. “I felt good against France. Any bumps and bruises I had on me were nothing major. “We’ve had two tough games and it’s never easy against France. But we look forward to (Saturday) and we’ll see what we can do.” Leinster were judged Team of the Year for winning the Heineken Cup with a remarkable fightback in the final against Northampton Saints, ahead of Magners League champions Munster.
Old Belvedere received the honour of Club of the Year for their thrillingly expansive 20-17 defeat of favourites Cork Constitution in the Ulster Bank League final in May. Former 1980s Ireland out-half Ollie Campbell and 1940/50s wing Mick Lane gained entry into the elite bracket of the Guinness Hall of Fame.