Sunday 21 January 2018

YouTube sensation Sean O'Brien admits there is no avoiding Internet idolising

Sean O'Brien is back to doing what he does best, creating moments in matches that become immortalised on the internet.
Sean O'Brien is back to doing what he does best, creating moments in matches that become immortalised on the internet.
Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

Sean O'Brien is back to doing what he does best, creating moments in matches that become immortalised on the internet.

His latest viral sensation is a monstrous clearout in the ninth minute of the victory over France.

The ball spurts out of the scrum and Conor Murray scampers back to rescue possession and Jamie Heaslip is first to arrive and holds off the on-rushing French back-row, who have Ireland on the back-foot in their own '22' and scent blood.

Heaslip does enough to hold off the initial onslaught, before O'Brien's arrival finishes the job emphatically, as the Tullow Tank lifts Bernard Le Roux and Rory Kockott into the air.

So far, more than 100,000 people have watched the clip on the Six Nations' official Youtube channel, while unofficial versions are all over various forms of social media.

Improve

The man himself hasn't been able to avoid the incident, but he isn't getting carried away by his latest feat - preferring to focus on the clear-outs that didn't go his way as he looks to improve on his return to international rugby in his second game back next week.

"I've seen it alright," he said almost ruefully. "Hard not to!

"There were lots of rucks that I didn't clear out well. That's what I thought most about after, that I missed a few 'barrels'. I was rusty, like. I missed a couple of tackles and stuff. Things like that. Hopefully that'll be better next week."

That rust is fully understandable after O'Brien spent most of the last 12 months on the sidelines but he feels that game-time has got him back up to speed.

Either side of his false start in Rome, the Carlow man is now two matches into his comeback and has been left out of the Leinster side to face Zebre tonight as a result of his playing almost 80 minutes last weekend.

That is with England in mind. With Heaslip now out, there is further emphasis on O'Brien to deliver with ball in hand.

"The body needs a bit of recovery now after being on for that long last week," he said.

"I could have been available, maybe, but there was probably a risk element to it just with soft tissue stuff. Just giving that hamstring a bit of a rest.

"You have done so much work but you are carrying a lot through those weeks. To play an international you have to train hard all week and then go out and do it all over again.

"Then you get your break. It is difficult but it is something that is very well managed.

"Getting through 50 minutes, it's unbelievable what it does for you the following week. You can do all the running you want outside of rugby but games is what you need. Once you get minutes under your belt you get better every time.

"That's just a natural progression and it's always been the case with me. If you get two or three games then you get really fit. I was blowing at the weekend after 20 minutes, mind you. It was a really fast pace but then it kind of levelled out."

Heaslip's absence will be felt keenly in the Irish team next week, with the vice-captain an almost ever-present in Joe Schmidt's side.

And, while O'Brien outlined what would be missed in the Naas native absence, he said the squad is now strong enough to cope with any loss.

"You lose someone who is an on field leader," he explained. "You lose someone whose fitness levels. . . he is someone who keeps going and keeps going. He is someone who will be there in the 80th minute when you need him.

"He is a world-class player as well. He is a big part of that team.

"It was a massive thing that the players discussed a few years ago, how strong the squad needed to be and how our bench needed to be as good as the lads starting the game.

"We have that now and Joe (Schmidt) has developed it really well. You look at who was on the bench at the weekend: Cian (Healy) coming on and Iain Henderson is one of these players who is only starting to get strong and he is a freak already.

"We have someone now to bring on in every position and they are all world class."

As O'Brien's career has gone on, the Bord Bia ambassador has experienced the game getting tighter and tighter, with space at a premium.

Collisions

"Lads are more powerful, they're getting faster. The collisions are getting bigger then," he said.

"The biggest thing I have noticed is in the academy and how big the younger lads are getting, at 19 or 20. They are going to need to be that big, I think.

"I don't worry about it because there is a lot of science behind everything they are doing now. If other teams are getting bigger and we're getting bigger at the same time, we're not going to be left behind.

"If we were a country that were not developing as quickly, then you'd be getting in trouble injury-wise."

Irish Independent

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