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Q&A with Sean O'Brien


Leinster and Ireland rugby star Sean O'Brien

Leinster and Ireland rugby star Sean O'Brien

Leinster and Ireland rugby star Sean O'Brien

Sam Griffin fires the questions

Favourite music?

I'd be a big Mumford & Sons fan. I listened to Sam Smith as well recently, he's pretty good. What else? A bit of S Club 7 every now and again.

I think Cian Healy slagged your musical tastes previously. . .

He's one to be talking.

If you weren't a rugby player?

I always wanted to be a vet but I wouldn't have the brains for that. I ­started an apprenticeship in carpentry when I was 18 before I got into the Leinster Academy so I could have been a carpenter, or I might even have joined the gardaí. God only knows where I would have ended up!

And after your career?

Well I've done a sports management degree in UCD and I'm doing a business degree in Griffith College at the minute. I'm in my second year with that.

In 10 years' time you hope to be…?


You've opened up a pub with Rob and Dave ­Kearney and Jamie Heaslip. How have you found that?

The Bridge (in Ballsbridge) is doing well. It's a ­different experience for all of us. We're very pleased with it. I'm learning the ropes of how to run a ­business. We sat in on a lot of meetings and ­discussions early on. It's been a good start.

Who does what?

We don't really have specific roles. We have a manager, Noel Anderson, who runs the place for us. He runs the day to day things. Rob is probably the fussiest. He's a neat freak. He wouldn't get his hands dirty, though.

How do you switch off after a game?

It's usually a sleepless night after a game. You'd be wound up and your body is coming down off such a high. You start to get sore. After a game isn't the most pleasant. You're trying to recover but it's always tough for the first 12 hours or so. Then you have active recovery the next day and you get into a pool and have a stretch. Get some good sleep then hopefully.

What do you like to eat on a 'cheat' day?

Pizza is my cheat. I always get the same one - chicken, pepperoni and rocket.

How are you in the kitchen?

I like to cook. I'm getting better. I have a few 'go to' meals all right, like seafood chowder and homemade burgers. The burgers are pretty good. Bacon and cabbage as well.

Any particular pre-match meal?

Sweet potato and some chicken or Bolognese.

Who's your sporting hero?

I loved Paddy Johns when I was growing up watching rugby. Roy Keane would be another one, and the likes of Tony McCoy and Ruby Walsh.

What would you consider as you biggest achievement?

Probably getting on the Lions in 2013. Since I got my first contract, I always tried to strive towards that. It was a big deal for me making that tour.

What was your favourite team to play on?

I'd say on the Leinster team in 2011. That year there were so many ­enjoyable games. It was a great year. The Heineken Cup final that year against ­Northampton stands out - we came back when everyone thought we were done and dusted.

And your greatest disappointment?

Probably losing to New Zealand in November 2013. We didn't play for the 80 minutes. We switched off at a crucial stage. Hopefully we've learned from that mistake.

Are the All Blacks the best team you played against?

I'd have to say so. They gave us an awful hiding in New Zealand on a summer tour there a few years ago. I think they beat us by about 50 or 60 points. It came after we had nearly beaten them the week before

Who's the best player you've ever played against?

I would have to say Richie McCaw. He's everywhere on the field. He's so smart. He has everything to his game.

And the best player you've played with?

Brian O'Driscoll. He has an element of genius at times. You could always expect the unexpected with Brian.

Any pre-match routine?

Sometimes I listen to music but not always. I go with the flow on game day. I'd be one of the more relaxed lads until I get into the changing-rooms.

Have you a motto?

Just hard work. You don't need to be the most skilful, most talented player to work hard. I think that is important for people to know.

Tell us something we don't know about Sean.

I have the full Garth Brooks collection. I had tickets for two of his nights at Croker. All the Dublin crew and then my family from home were coming up as well. He'll be back, though, I guarantee it.

Who's the biggest joker in the Leinster team?

Definitely Fergus McFadden. He's always scheming. You'd want eyes on the back of your head. He could do anything to you.

For Ireland?

Conor Murray, maybe.

If you could change one thing about yourself?

Be more patient.

What's your most prized possession?

My first cap for Ireland. You get one for every age group. So I have one for youths, then U-20s, U-21s, Ireland A and then senior.

Who would play Sean O'Brien in a movie about Sean O'Brien?

Paul O'Connell.

The person who makes you laugh?

My father Sean. He's a gas man. I laugh at him the whole time. Just laughing at him and the things he comes out with.

Describe your life in seven words?

Busy, energetic, scheduled, happy, determined and humble.

Who's going to win the World Cup?

We are… hopefully.


Ireland and Leinster back-row Sean O'Brien spoke to Lineout at the launch of the Bord Bia Ham and Bacon campaign which encourages consumers to switch to choosing Bord Bia Quality Assured ham and bacon. Check out recipes.bordbia.ie ​

Irish Independent