O’Brien looks to get ball rolling


O’Brien looks to get ball rolling

And while his namesake from Tullow is out injured, O’Brien is hopeful they can get a great weekend for Irish rugby off to a flying start in Tarbes today when they take on a Grand Slam-chasing French side.

O’Brien, a key figure for Cistercian College Roscrea over the past few seasons, was handed the captaincy when injury ruled out Dan Leavy, and the Galway native said it was a proud moment to lead out the side on home soil for the 18-0 win over Italy at Dubarry Park.

“I was delighted to get the opportunity and to get it at home was brilliant, I enjoyed it,” he said.

“But the most important thing was to get the win and we feel that if we can be more clinical and finish the chances we create we have an opportunity to win in France.

“There is a lot of competition for places for the Junior World Cup in June, we have quite a big squad, so everyone is playing for their spot,” said the Galwegians clubman.

Coach Mike Ruddock has made three changes, with one of last weekend’s try-scorers, Cian Kelleher, moving from wing to full-back in place of David Busby, with Alex Wootton, who played in last year’s Junior World Cup in France, coming in on the wing.

There is a new half-back partnership too, with Lansdowne’s Conor McKeon taking over from Ross Byrne at out-half, while Bruff’s Jack Cullen starts at scrum-half in place of UCD’s Nick McCarthy.

IRELAND: C Kelleher (Leinster); A Wootton (Munster), D Goggin (Munster), P Robb (Leinster), A Byrne (Leinster); C McKeon (Leinster), J Cullen (Munster); P Dooley (Leinster), M Abbott (Munster), R Burke (Munster); S O’Brien (Connacht), R Moloney (Leinster); P Timmins (Leinster), R Moloney (Connacht), J O’Donoghue (Munster).

Replacements: S McNulty (Munster), D Coulson (Leinster), O Heffernan (Leinster), S Gardiner (Leinster), F Taggart (Ulster), N McCarthy (Leinster), R Byrne (Leinster), D Busby (Ulster).

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