Wednesday 24 January 2018

O'Donnell's out to impress

Tommy O'Donnell, right, is set to make his Ireland debut on Saturday
Tommy O'Donnell, right, is set to make his Ireland debut on Saturday

Munster openside Tommy O'Donnell believes the presence of new coach Joe Schmidt at Ireland's clash with the US Eagles on Saturday night will be a positive for the players.

The 26-year-old is likely to make his international debut off the bench in Houston, especially considering the heat the match is going to be played in and the effect it will have on the tourists. O'Donnell is covering all three back-row positions and will be watched by his mother and two aunts who have travelled to Texas for the game.

O'Donnell is keen to impress the new Ireland coach, who is set to arrive in Houston on Friday evening, and he explained: "Lads are always going to try hard because it is a Test and things will always lift during training, but yes, knowing Joe is there will be on lads' minds and knowing that he will be in charge for the November internationals means that if you show a bit of form you will be in his mind."

He added: "Lads will try their hearts out and try to be a peg above whoever is their competition when they come to November."

Schmidt watched training at Carton House last week as interim coach Les Kiss put the players through their paces. The former Leinster coach does not take full control until after the games against the USA and Canada, but his presence on the tour will undoubtedly have an impact.

O'Donnell added: "It was different knowing he was there (at training), we were just focusing on our drills but he was on the sideline chatting away.

"You can't be looking over and be too focused on him, you just have to get on with your own job and play. That's the best way to catch someone's eye, for them to notice your game, that you're getting everything right and that you've no errors."

The reality that he is just about to become an Ireland player is beginning to dawn on the Tipperary native.

"It is surreal, it hasn't kicked in. It's just been camp, I've been in camp before and I've always gone home by the weekend," he said.

"I suppose it will become real when we do the captain's run tonight (Friday) and tomorrow on game day. I only have 24 hours to get my mind around that I could make my Ireland debut."

Press Association

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