Sunday 15 December 2019

Speedster O'Brien reaps Sevens reward for Leinster

Jimmy O’Brien. Photo: Ramsey Cardy
Jimmy O’Brien. Photo: Ramsey Cardy

Rúaidhrí O'Connor

Sandwiched between back-to-back European away games, Saturday's visit to Glasgow is a chance for the Leinster players who put them in pole position in the PRO14 to remind the coaches of how good they are.

Although Rónan Kelleher, Max Deegan and Josh Murphy all saw Champions Cup action at the weekend, a host of hopefuls were watching on from back home hungry for an opportunity to impress this weekend.

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Versatile back Jimmy O'Brien is one of those who made hay when the internationals were away, starting three matches and coming off the bench twice, and now he has another chance to shine in Scotstoun as he looks to put himself in the frame for the bigger games to come.

"You can kind of get caught up in it but I don't get too caught up in it," the Eadestown, Co Kildare native said of getting into the European picture.

"Obviously I want to be playing every game and playing Champions Cup but there is so much quality in the room that you have to bide your time and wait for your opportunity and then when you get there you have to try and take it.

Caught

"It is quite hard in there to get your opportunity. There is so many good players but when you get it, you really have to take it, put your hand up and that, 'Yeah, I can play at this level'.

"You have seen that in the last three/four years, the young lads coming up have been unbelievable, even those starting at the weekend.

"There were very young lads in there who were leaders in the group and stuff like that.

"So I think they do trust young lads here and it is expected of you here; you are not just going to be babysat up there, you have to be a big player in the team when you are in it."

O'Brien, who turns 23 today, is one of those Leinster players who've experienced life on the Sevens circuit and he believes the shortened game sharpened his skill-set for the professional game.

"I really enjoyed it, you get set in there. They have their goals and you want to help them get to them," he said. "I thought it gave me a lot of confidence for taking lads on. I came into it as a No 10 or 12, looking to pass the ball. With the Sevens, you're told to take guys on one on one and that gives you confidence.

"On the flip-side, you have to get better at your defending because everyone else is trying to do that to you, trying to beat you one on one.

"That helps, plus fitness and speed and things like that. I got a lot faster, if I hadn't done Sevens I wouldn't be as fast."

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