Monday 9 December 2019

O'Brien hoping to follow in footsteps of O'Driscoll and Ringrose


Tommy O'Brien in attendance during the Ireland U20 Rugby Press Conference at PwC Head Office in Spencer Dock, Dublin. Photo: Sportsfile
Tommy O'Brien in attendance during the Ireland U20 Rugby Press Conference at PwC Head Office in Spencer Dock, Dublin. Photo: Sportsfile
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

There is something about Blackrock College and the number 13 jersey.

Brian O'Driscoll set the platform, Garry Ringrose has since followed in his footsteps and now Tommy O'Brien is bidding to do the same, as he becomes the latest exciting talent off the conveyor belt.

Having played the majority of his rugby on the wing for the Ireland U-20s last year, before a hamstring injury scuppered his chances of featuring at the Junior World Cup, O'Brien is now primed to feature at outside centre.

The Leinster Academy player was unanimously voted as captain by his team-mates for this year's U-20s Six Nations and O'Brien is eager to hit the ground running.

"It's a tough line to follow," he admitted.

"Obviously BOD and Garry recently. I'm aspiring to be like those guys but I'm a long way off the finished article at the moment. Garry was three years ahead of me in school.

"I was in third year when he was in sixth year and he had that great Cup season.

"His brother is in my year so I'm actually good friends with him so I'd know Garry quite well at this stage.

"His brother Jack is obviously in second year in college as well."

The path has been set by O'Driscoll and Ringrose, and while O'Brien isn't getting ahead of himself, he knows what is possible.

"Yeah, it gives you a bit of belief that if they can do it, it's doable," he maintained.

"Obviously, it took a lot of hard work. I know those guys worked very hard coming up through sub-academies and Leinster Academies and then they got their chance with the 20s and kicked on. It is doable but obviously a lot of hard work goes into it.

"People are going to draw comparisons. At the moment it's up to me. I'm still young. I'm still 19.

"It's up to me to become the player I am going to be. I'm just going to do what I do best. Everyone has their own kind of traits and points of difference.

"I'll focus on my own ones and become the player I'm going to be I guess."

O'Brien being selected as captain also brings an end to St Michael's dominance over the armband in recent years, which will come as an added bonus to the former Blackrock student.

"I would have played last year but would have had a bit of experience on my side that would have helped me in terms of getting this captaincy," O'Brien added.

"I would have known Noel (McNamara) well as my Leinster 'A' team's coach, Leinster 20s coach and Irish 18s coach so I would have a good relationship with him.

"I'd know some of the guys playing 20s last year, Irish U-18s so I think I just had a good relationship with everyone.

"I'm quite happy being vocal on the pitch and don't mind speaking up. Noel asked me and I was delighted to say yes.

"He just said I'm well-respected by the staff and also the players so yeah when you have the respect of the players.

"You can't really lead anyone if you don't have anyone's respect so once he told me I had the respect of everyone and everyone's support, I knew I'd be delighted and honoured to lead them."'s U-20s Six Nations coverage is in association with PwC

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