Tuesday 17 September 2019

Jack O'Donoghue: I've been analysing David Pocock's game and hope to adopt his traits

Jack O'Donoghue is tackled by Ulster's Andrew Trimble last week
Jack O'Donoghue is tackled by Ulster's Andrew Trimble last week

Jack O’Donoghue

To pick up a win after defeat the week before is always a bit of a relief, but to run in five tries in an interpro derby against Ulster, it doesn't get much better than that.

I think a few things really clicked for us last weekend in attack and, apart from a few errors early on, I think we defended really well to close out the game. The boys were brilliant in the way they finished off their chances. So we were happy all round!

After the heartbreak of losing so late against Scarlets we needed to come out all guns blazing and perform against Ulster and I think we definitely did that.

I think the most pleasing aspect of the win was that we were a bit more clinical and accurate once we got into the opposition's '22'. We came away with points the majority of times, so to keep the scoreboard ticking in a game like that is vital.

When we previewed Ulster we identified that they have a massive menu of moves. They throw their strike plays in off different set-plays every week, and I think they had five internationals in their backline against us last weekend. It's always good when you come up against players like that to come out on top.


The start wasn't ideal from us and they got a try from deep in their own territory. That set us back a bit after a good start but we responded very well. But we got back into their half and we came away with seven points. That was a good response and set us back on track.

And while everything pretty much went to plan, the premature kick to touch at the end was not ideal. The stadium clock and match clock seem to have been a bit different and I think going forward we need to manage that better. We need to keep talking to the referee and know exactly how long is left, instead of everyone having their heart in their mouth.

When we assessed the game on Monday, our game management was addressed in that meeting. It's up to us to control the game in the dying moments, slow things down, use the five seconds permitted at the ruck, set up a couple of pods each side of the breakdown and keep playing them until the clock goes red. Then that's the time to boot it out.

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But the end shouldn't take away from what was a good team performance. We were impressive in front of our own fans at Thomond Park against one of our big rivals and we're delighted to take all five points from that one.

From a personal point of view I really enjoyed the game. I got stuck into the battle pretty early and it flowed well throughout. I felt that I did my best to try and make their breakdown as messy as possible. As a whole, I was pleased with how that game went for me.

I am still learning the No 7 position, but the week off before this one gave me a lot of time to do some video work and analyse some of the top players and how they operate.

I had a good look at David Pocock last week and how he went at the World Cup and hopefully I was able to bring some of his traits to my game against Ulster.

It's something that I've always liked to do, but with the World Cup going on the last few weeks it has made that analysis a lot easier. The best players in the world in my position are on show and facing each other. The likes of Michael Hooper, Richie McCaw and Pocock played against each other on Saturday in the final and it was a real masterclass of the breakdown. When the three of them were in full swing it made for amazing viewing.

I really tuned in to see what they did in certain situations. When you are faced with a similar situation in a match, you know exactly what you need to do. Having that picture in your mind really helps your decision making.

Hopefully I get the nod again this weekend but Edinburgh will make for a tough game over there. They are coming off the back of two losses on the road after they had four wins to start the season, so having them on their own patch will be a tough one for us. And with it being the week before our first Champions Cup game of the season, we'll be trying to have everything moving nicely for that.

They are a hugely physical outfit, they are very tight in defence so we'll have to work really hard to create chances and be ruthless in how we take them.

We'll have to be ready to match them physically, but we are prepared for a tough day out.

While I'm discussing tough days, last week was tough for everyone associated with Munster and Irish rugby.

A black cloud hung over the province as news broke that Felix Jones had to retire.

It makes me think and reflect on how lucky and privileged I am to be able to take to the field and represent my home province. Felix was an incredible player and phenomenal athlete.

He is an ideal role model for all players and kids, his work-rate and enthusiasm on the pitch, be it, in training or in a game is astonishing. He always strived to do better he was never happy with second place.

Felix was very helpful to the younger lads in the squad and was always on hand to provide help, anything that would benefit the team. One thing that stands out to me is his attention for detail.

It could be the smallest thing he'd pick up on when analysing training or games. He'd always say the people in the crowd mightn't see it but everyone here in Munster would. I was lucky enough to have had the chance to play alone side Jonesy and I can honestly say it was an honour.

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