EOIN O’MALLEY is a patient young man. And, in the mould of all young centres at Leinster, he needs to be.
Few paths to the top are as fiercely blocked as the number 12 and 13 jerseys on the east coast where Gordon D’Arcy and Brian O’Driscoll have ruled the roost for as long as O’Malley can remember.
Throw in the abilities of Luke Fitzgerald, Isa Nacewa and Shane Horgan – among others — so both the 22 -year-old and his Old Belvedere clubmate Fergus McFadden must bide their time and take whatever opportunities that come their way.
One of those appears to be approaching as the Ireland internationals are set to miss out on Leinster’s clash with Edinburgh on Saturday, allowing the duo a shot at impressing coach Joe Schmidt.
At 22, O’Malley admits he once idolised the men he is vying for places with and, although he does find elements of the waiting game frustrating, the youngster is content to serve his time.
“It was a bit of a strange one when I first trained with them. I think I might have been only 18 at the time and I’d spent most of my school days looking up to those guys.
“I think my main goal was just to get through the session without making too many mistakes, keep my head down and not cause any stir. Leinster’s been a very good place for me to develop. Certainly there’s a very good atmosphere around the place.
“There’ll be opportunities, hopefully in the next few weeks, and there’s young lads like myself constantly looking for them. But you can’t really say a whole lot if you don’t take them, so hopefully the next few weeks go well.”
McFadden’s Ireland call up at the end of last season has given a chink of light to those provincial players currently plying their trade behind the established internationals, and O’Malley believes the duo can have an impact in the coming weeks.
“Fergus has had a great year or so, even two years. I suppose the two of us started off the same way. His Ireland call-up and everything else is encouraging for everyone, not just for me but for other young lads watching it. And he’s obviously holding his own in those teams”.
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