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O’Brien: We Were Fresh And Ready To Rock

O’Brien: We Were Fresh And Ready To Rock

Sean O’Brien, Ireland’s man-of-the-match against Scotland, was always quietly confident that they would get the required result at BT Murrayfield and claim a second successive RBS 6 Nations crown.

On a dramatic and unforgettable final day in the 2015 Championship, points scoring difference decided the destination of the title once again, with just 10 points separating the top three teams in the end – Ireland prevailed with a +63 difference, just ahead of England (+57) and Wales (+53).

Asked if he was confident Ireland would get the job done, Sean O’Brien admitted afterwards: “There was no doubt (in our minds). We had a good week. The training, the coaches looked after us really well. We were fresh.

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“There were a lot of sore bodies after (the defeat to Wales) last week – it was probably the toughest Test match I was involved in. We had done really well in that aspect of things, training was sharp on Thursday, we had a bit of fun here yesterday (playing walking-touch rugby) and we were ready to rock.”

O’Brien more than played his part in the 40-10 title-clinching win over the Scots, showing glimpses of his ball-carrying best as he ran in two crucial tries. It was a dream finish to the tournament personally, considering the setbacks he had in the opening rounds (withdrawing from the team to play Italy with a hamstring injury and then concussion forced him off in the first half against England).

The Carlow man started four successive games for Ireland in recent weeks, something he has not done since 2013. It has been a long road back from two operations on the left shoulder he dislocated against Munster in December 2013, with his recovery from the initial surgery complicated by a post-op infection.

“Today has (made it worthwhile). I’m finally feeling back to myself again. It has been a long 15 months but I’m very happy to be back,” said O’Brien.

“(Losing to Wales) might not have been the worst thing in the world. We know we can learn and move forward. That was the biggest thing to come out of last week, that we didn’t do our jobs correctly and we didn’t do what we did during the week. If we approach the game like we did today, for instance…making sure everyone is going 100 miles an hour, we know we are never too far away.”

At the final whistle in Murrayfield O’Brien sought out his Leinster colleague Luke Fitzgerald, who was making his first Ireland start in over four years. He was delighted to see Fitzgerald back in the green jersey after his own battles with injury.

“He was one of the first players I went over to at the end of the game just to say well done and that he’d done the basics really well. Lukey is an unbelievable defender, he carried really well and he’d done everything he had to do.

“For a fella who hadn’t played in the last few weeks either and hasn’t been at this level for a while, it was very pleasing to have him back in the squad. He is a great communicator as well. That is one of his big strengths and he helped everyone else around him.”

O’Brien won an Under-20 Grand Slam in 2007 and now has a senior RBS 6 Nations winners’ medal to go with that. It was a very satisfying finish to a campaign in which defences ruled the roost for the most part – champions Ireland emerged with the best defensive record, conceding only three tries and 56 points.

“There has been a lot of talk about the style of play the last few weeks but as I said, defences in this competition are very strong. (With) analysis and what not, they are able to close people down and the quality of player and strength in depth, you have really good players playing against you.

“You have to bring them to a place where they are under a lot of pressure and maybe we haven’t done that in the last few weeks. But we can be very proud of ourselves today with how we approached the game and did our business.”