Malcolm O'Kelly, who is sitting out the summer tour to recover from injury, was recently interviewed on 'The Hub' show on Setanta Sports to promote the Ulster Bank/IRFU Summer Scrummage. He also took the time to answer some questions about his season and resting up this summer.
MALCOLM O'KELLY: INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPT
- ON MISSING THE SUMMER TOUR -
"It's the first summer in 11 years that I haven't been on tour. The Irish management have been great in terms of managing me towards the World Cup next year. They thought it best that I try to get rid of some of the niggles that have hampered me through the season and try and come back fresh and keen for next season which is a big one for the (Irish) squad.
"So with that in mind, they've told me to stay at home and watch the tour matches on TV for a change!"
- ON THE TOUR -
"Physically I'd love to go there (New Zealand and Australia) and psychologically after the Leinster-Munster match, I'd probably would have said 'I don't want to go.'
"I'd love to go on the tour but it's not in my best interests. The management and medics feel that. We've worked hard to try and sort things out so I'm right for next season."
"Whether or not I would have been starting (on the tour) would have been a different matter. The management probably felt with the depth at second row we have, we can give guys a chance like the likes of Leo (Cullen) and Mick O'Driscoll, and probably give Donncha (O'Callaghan) an opportunity to start - these guys are top internationals, top players and they'll do Ireland proud."
- ON HIS SUMMER SCHEDULE -
"I'll spend these two weeks organising myself in terms of what's required. Then I'll probably take a two-week break and start pre-season in early July. It's a chance to get myself fit.
"It was something I didn't get an opportunity to do last year. It was all rehab and trying to get myself back on my feet after the (groin) injury on the Lions tour.
"It just gives me an opportunity to get back to the fitness that's required at the top level. It's a great opportunity for me and I'm indebted to the Irish management for allowing me to do it."
- ON HIS INJURY -
"(Getting through the season) it's surprising what an amount of adrenalin will do! The injury I have it's a groin problem - a lot of GAA players suffer from it. It's difficult to manage on a day-to-day basis but I've an opportunity to get it right now and I'm really keen that it will work out."
- ON HIS CAPS RECORD -
"My first cap was against New Zealand (a 63-15 defeat at Lansdowne Road in 1997) - I was playing against Zinzan Brooke, Robin Brooke and Ian Jones - some of the greats of New Zealand rugby - and we were going out with six or seven new caps!
"(Comparing the current record with Mike Gibson's old 69-cap mark) it was a different game back then. The intensity and passion that went on was no different, but certainly the amount of games played has risen in recent years. I've played a game a week practically since I came back (from injury) in October.
"Mike Gibson actually rang me, we had a big conversion in Scotland about how things have changed. He was absolutely fantastic and splendid to me. It was very interesting to get some insights from such a legend."
- ON LEINSTER'S HEINEKEN CUP SEMI-FINAL LOSS TO MUNSTER -
"Mistakes - I really think the day got to us. I think we were probably over-hyped, too excited about getting out there and making a difference - just not concentrating.
"Personal mistakes - I know it sounds obvious. I certainly made a handful of mistakes - I think I was one of many guys. As one of the senior guys in the team, I pride myself on not making any mistakes, but I made so many at the start of that game.
"We were 16 points down and against Munster with the likes of Ronan O'Gara who can control the game as well as he does, it's so hard to try and claw that back.
"I thought we did well to stay in the game and keep ourselves within a score but unfotunately we just didn't come up with the goods in terms of attacking prowess."
- ON RONAN O'GARA'S TRY V LEINSTER -
"Ronan rang me and he was gutted. He said he was sorry for the way he acted (celebrating) before he put down the ball. I personally didn't have a problem with that.
"Obviously I was devastated that he had done it and I couldn't believe out of all the people it was ROG who handed me off. In fairness, he did well and I was expecting him to let it go (pass). I wouldn't mind but I tackled him three of four times earlier in the game and put him straight down!
"He saw his opportunity - it was coming towards the end of the game and I was probably tiring. He just got the hand into the chest before I could grab his jersey and he was by me - that was that.
"I had to stand up and take it, stuff like that happens. You just have to get over it.
...O'Kelly receiving a special commemorative jersey on the occasion of his 100th Leinster cap...
- ON LEINSTER'S SEASON -
"At the start of the season had we taken the overview that we're going to get to the semis (of the Heineken Cup) and come second in the Celtic League, you'd be happy. But when it comes to the actual moment - when it's there for you, the opportunity is there and you don't take it...
"For us, not showing up in Cardiff was devastating but I was proud of everyone how we came back and played so hard and tried to win it (the Celtic League) in Edinburgh but it wasn't to be. We just have to circle the wagons and come back next season and start again."
- ON THE ULSTER BANK/IRFU SUMMER SCRUMMAGE CAMPS -
"Ulster Bank are involved with us for the Summer Scrummage camps. There will be over 50 camps throughout July and August for young boys and girls (between 7 and 13 years of age).
"We're trying to open the rugby doors as such to as many people as possible, keep people interested during the summer and keep the kids out of the parents' hair for a week or so.
"The camps are on at different stages of the summer in Cork, Limerick, Dublin and various places around the country. There'll certainly be a lot of good representatives in terms of IRFU coaches and you never know there might be the odd appearance by an international player or two."
**Malcolm O'Kelly was talking to presenter Daire O'Brien on 'The Hub', which can bee seen on Setanta Sports Ireland every Monday to Thursday (7.30pm). 'The Hub Review', a round-up of the week's shows, is broadcast on Friday nights.**