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Number thirteen lucky for Rory


Rory O'Loughlin of Leinster in attendance at squad training

Rory O'Loughlin of Leinster in attendance at squad training

Rory O'Loughlin of Leinster in attendance at squad training

Rory O'Loughlin is in an unusual position at outside centre. When Garry Ringrose was making his breakthrough at Leinster, Brian O'Driscoll had just left the stage and Ben Te'o was about to scarper to Worcester Warriors.

Ringrose had to deal with the unwanted label of being the next BOD when all he wanted was to be himself.

Twenty-two years old O'Loughlin is one of ten Leinster Academy players used this season for ten caps, six from the start.

The problem is that the man in his way is one year younger, not ten years older.

"Yeah it's a strange one," he said.

"Myself and Garry competed at (Ireland) Under-20s as well where, at the start of the season, it would probably have been the other way around.

"Obviously, he's gone ahead of me there," said O'Loughlin about the season where Ringrose ended up with a World Rugby U20 Player if the Year nomination in 2014.

"It's obviously good because we're both kind of learning together.

"But, it is difficult once the European games come around when it's back to Garry going in at thirteen."

It is not so much the apprentice learning from the master as two quick learners pushing each other to be better.

O'Loughlin has not quite had the same exposure as Ringrose and has had to grow into his role this season.


There are parts of the Ireland international's game that he has been able to cherry pick from.

"He's very composed in attack especially," he said.

"He kind of reads the game very well and is good at organising forwards and getting the shape in play to get the ball to where he wants to get it whereas that's where I've struggled."

Slowly, the soft-spoken centre has come to grips with the importance of communication in the professional arena.

"At the start of the season, I found it quite difficult, bossing players that are a good bit older than me that played internationally.

"It's not until you feel comfortable with your spot on the team that you have the confidence to do that.

"You just have to forget about all that and realise that you're all on the same team.

"You're all senior players and they're going to listen to you, they respect you."

The Leinster coaches have shown their respect for O'Loughlin by giving him game time even though coach Leo Cullen has talked about how "skinny" they are in the backs.

The sink-or-swim scenario applies to those handed opportunities in a needs-must situation.

Rob and Dave Kearney, Noel Reid and Fergus McFadden have all been hampered by injury for various lengths this season.

It has prompted Cullen to often dip into The Academy.

"When you're coming out of The Academy at the start, you kind of have the impression that you need to earn your spot on the team."

He has learned from every minute of it.