As he approaches completion of his first pre-season in the senior ranks, Jack O’Donoghue plans to build on last season’s experiences in challenging for a regular position in the Munster starting line-up.
In 2014/15, his final year in the academy system, and while captaining the Munster ‘A’ side, Jack O’Donoghue broke into the senior ranks, making ten senior appearances – including the GUINNESS PRO12 final – and scoring three tries. In total, he has played 362 minutes of senior competitive rugby for Munster, with each one of those minutes standing greatly to the former Ireland Under-20 captain.
“I came up from the Munster Academy this year but was lucky enough to get a few games under my belt before the end of last season,” admitted the young number 8. “I’ve moved on to a Development contract so hopefully now I can push on, build on what I’ve learnt last year and be competing for a place on the team.
“Losing to Glasgow Warriors in the PRO12 final last season was a hard one to take, but still we can learn a lot from that defeat and put those lessons learnt to good use this season and try our best to go one better.
“There’s great competition here and I’m learning from the lads around me. You never have a secure place in the side, you are constantly competing but that’s what drives you and makes you focus on what you need to work on.”
Originally from Waterford and a product of the Muster Youths system, O’Donoghue started out with Waterpark RFC and played with Munster Under-18 Clubs, Under-19s and Under-20s before spending three years with the Greencore Munster Academy from where he graduated in May, also picking up the Academy Player of the Year at the 2015 Munster Rugby Awards.
“The club game is vital. You have the likes of Matt (D’Arcy) coming in from Clontarf and he really impressed last weekend (against Grenoble). It will continue to be the stepping stone for a lot of players coming into the squad. Playing first team club ruby and performing well can put you on Axel’s radar and from there you could take it to the next level.”
Now that he has well and truly arrived on the senior scene, the 21-year-old back rower is relishing the prospect of a return to action on Friday night against Connacht at Thomond Park (kick-off 7.45pm).
“Pre-season games give guys a chance to go out and impress the coaches. I hopefully will get a run-out this weekend and prove to Axel and the coaching team what I can do and give myself the best chance to get a spot on the team. If you get it, you then have to work just as hard to keep it.
“I’m lucky that I can bring my experience from last year into this season and going out this weekend it’s about getting your basics and finer details right, don’t be nervous and the lads around you will help you through the game.
“It’s important to enjoy it too – you know you are good enough, you’ve been picked for a reason, keep your head up and keep going.”
The Connacht v Munster pre-season clash will take place as part of the Limerick World Club Sevens tournament at Thomond Park. On Friday, two adults can enjoy Sevens and 15-a-side action for the price of one. Click here to avail of this great offer. Please note, you must select ‘2 for 1 Offer Adult Ticket’ once you click through.