So far so good for Tomas O’Leary following his move from Munster to London Irish.
His new coach, Brian Smith, heaped praise on the Irish international following their 34-10 victory over Munster at Musgrave Park on Friday night, describing the Corkman as ‘unbelievable.’
“He is really emerging as a leader for us,” said Smith. “We signed him because I’ve coached teams against him and both I and Shaun Edwards rate him very highly. We know there are a lot of good scrum-halves in Ireland but he is right up there with the best of them. We have asked him to step forward to play a leadership role at the club, he is very vocal, and we wanted a bit of Munster at London Irish.
“He is very demanding of the other boys and I think he will bring that Munster winning culture to us.”
O’Leary admitted it was a strange experience to line out against his old Munster friends and colleagues in Musgrave Park: “It was a little weird. I felt I was in my comfort zone a little in Munster and now I am probably one of the most experienced lads at London Irish, which is good. I have a lot of experience playing with Muster and Ireland and it is good to try and use that.
“I think I did take on a lot of responsibility when I was here too, it was just the fact that there are more younger and inexperienced players on this team and they might look to you a bit more. Having that bit more responsibility is good and it is what I want. You get plenty of responsibility playing in a key position anyway, that comes with the territory. It is just a fresh environment and a fresh start for me and I am just really enjoying it.”
O’Leary hopes his impressive good season form continues into the Premiership, which kicks off this weekend with a glamour clash against Saracens at Twickenham.
Apart from the occasion, which he reckons will be special, O’Leary is excited about the challenge of playing in a different tournament which he described as especially competitive.
“The Premiership seems to have a lot of good, even teams,” he said, “hopefully I can get a good run of games and start enjoying my rugby. With Munster in the nine position it is very competitive and I felt I wasn’t getting enough of games. The more games I play the sharper and more confident I get. Definitely if I get a good run of games it can only benefit my form and I am looking forward to that.
“I felt last year the games I played with Munster and the contribution I made to the team was very positive. I just felt that I didn’t get enough time in the key games, so it was frustrating.
“I am happy where I am at the moment; but I am not where I want to be yet (in terms of impact). But I am on the way.”
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