Saturday 18 November 2017

O'Loughlin eyes place on Ireland's summer tour

Rory O’Loughlin aims for an international call-up
Rory O’Loughlin aims for an international call-up
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

While Rory O'Loughlin isn't getting ahead of himself, his scintillating form this season has led to calls for him to make the step up to the international stage.

The Six Nations was always likely to come too soon for the 23-year old who is enjoying a stunning breakthrough season with Leinster, but the summer tour to American and Japan looms large.

Since making his professional debut from the bench against Treviso back in September, O'Loughlin has blazed a trail and helped himself to eight tries.

Form

The tour will be used as a nod to the future and if the former St Michael's College student can maintain his form, he will push hard for a spot on the plane.

"Before the Six Nations squad was announced, I wasn't really expecting to be involved at all," O'Loughlin insisted.

"I was competing pretty hard here for a place. Now people are starting to talk about the Japan tour which obviously I would love to go on, but there is a massive group of games left in the Pro12 and the Champions Cup quarter-final.

"I really want to play in those games and I need to focus on that first. That's the best chance of me making that next step up.

"Obviously there would an extra set of nerves stepping up to the international game, but I think playing in Europe has really helped me gain the confidence of playing against players of that calibre.

"I would be confident that I could make that step up."

O'Loughin is currently recovering from a shoulder injury and the recent two-week break has given him ample time to fully get it right.

Hopes

He hopes to return against Cardiff next week as he looks to minimise the chances of allowing one of the many other wingers to jump ahead of him in the pecking order.

"I had to re-evaluate my goals pretty quickly," he explained.

"I hadn't even gotten my first cap coming into the season after the summer," he added.

"That would have been my original goal and then obviously after getting the first cap, it would have been to progress and get a few more.

"My goals wouldn't have been as high as they have come to have been so early this year.

"Even now I'm setting new goals towards the end of the season.

"It's all about confidence because you can express yourself out on the rugby pitch."

Irish Independent

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