O'Sullivan determined to make most of step up with Ireland U-20s
Losing a player of Caelan Doris' quality was unquestionably a body blow to Ireland's U-20s Six Nations hopes, but Jack O'Sullivan went some way to filling his boots with an impressive display in the defeat to France, writes Cian Tracey.
On the back of captaining PBC to the Munster Schools Senior Cup title last year, O'Sullivan secured a place in the province's Academy.
A powerful No 8, the 19-year-old was one of Ireland's stand-out performers in Bordeaux and will be central to their hopes of bouncing back at home to Italy on Friday night.
Playing in the AIL with UCC has helped accelerate his development, as have the two appearances that the Cork native has made in the British and Irish Cup, but playing at the U-20s Six Nations was a step up from anything he has faced before.
"Even the pace of the game, it was quicker than B&I. It took a bit of getting used to," O'Sullivan admitted.
"I suppose it was kinda the same as the 19s. It was a tale of two games, instead of a tale of two halves. You're a bit shocked in the first game but we took it to them in the second game, like we did in the second half of the 20s game.
"For a lot of us, that was our first time playing at 20s level so it just took a bit of getting used to."
Like every other forward in the squad, O'Sullivan is relishing the chance to work with Paul O'Connell, who was extremely vocal, judging from the television commentary.
"Obviously you are delighted because a name like Paul O'Connell and all the experience he brings to it," he enthused.
"As a forward as well, you're especially excited. He's been brilliant with us so far.
"He actually didn't say a whole lot (at half-time). They (coaches) were just saying believe in ourselves. They knew we didn't perform to our best. They just wanted us to go out and do our best.
"Once we got into our shape, we did fine. I suppose we just have to take that into the Italy game now. We're confident going into it, looking back on our second half."
Independent.ie's U-20s Six Nations coverage is in association with PwC