Tuesday 16 January 2018

O'Malley keen to maintain standards in absence of O'Driscoll

David Kelly

David Kelly

Eoin O'Malley sent Brian O'Driscoll a text message last week to wish him a speedy recuperation after shoulder surgery.

"I'm sure he'll be eager to get back in this side," he said.

Yesterday at the RDS, the try-scoring tyro delivered a stirring message to the injured Irish captain that he shouldn't expect to merely waltz back into the Heineken Cup champions' first 15.

Which is just how coach Joe Schmidt would like it.

"I had a chat with Brian on Friday and he's very positive," said Schmidt in the aftermath of yesterday's facile 38-13 success against the Glasgow Warriors.

"He'll have a couple of weeks before rehab. There's no doubt in his mind as to where he wants to get back to. At the same time, Eoin, Fergus McFadden, Luke Fitzgerald and Gordon D'Arcy are not keeping the seat warm.

"They want to keep it for themselves and Brian drives that attitude himself. He'll be looking over his shoulder and hoping the team does well and that there's space for him to squeeze back in."


O'Malley, who thieved two of his side's tries from close range after coming from impressive depth, sampled this competition briefly last season in the great man's absence but faded away thereafter.

After suffering almost a year out with a variety of injuries, he intends to make a more lasting impression in his fourth year as a professional and, on yesterday's evidence, a continuation of this form could even alert Irish coach Declan Kidney.

"There's pressure coming through the whole squad," he said. "Obviously there's an opportunity there at the moment. With the amount of games in this season, there's going to be more than one person used. We all need to dig in but the better you play individually, the more it adds up.

"I don't think there's extra pressure. It's a big opportunity and it's something I've been looking towards for a couple of years now. It just means more game time and when I do get a chance hopefully I can deliver.

"I can't change too much about my game. I just need to keep working week to week and put in the performances."

As much as O'Malley eyes up a lengthy period of residence in that famed number 13 jersey, he remains acutely aware of the legacy bequeathed by O'Driscoll and others to the club's emerging brand of players, of whom he is a perfect example.

"It's something that's always here, the standards that guys like Brian have set, working to get to where Leinster are today," he agreed. "You definitely feel an onus and it adds to the responsibility of playing for Leinster."

Irish Independent

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