Sean O’Brien hopes to have impressed Joe Schmidt

Sean O'Brien: Lasted 51 minutes last night before being called ashore at Musgrave Park.

Sean O’Brien is hoping 50 minutes of international rugby will be enough to convince national coach Joe Schmidt that he has a part to play in the opening game of the Six Nations clash with Italy next week.

The Tullow Tank successfully came through last night’s clash between the Irish Wolfhounds and the English Saxons without any further injury concerns after a year of pain and torture.

O’Brien was clearly disappointed to lose the game to the Saxons having gone toe to toe with them for the bulk of the match.

On a personal level, he admitted to having “blown” up after a half hour but said: “I was expecting that myself and at the end I got 50 minutes under my belt. I’d like more game time before next week but there is no more opportunity. We’ll see what happens (with selection) on Sunday. Ideally I’d like two or three games under my belt but with the short window that’s not possible.

“I’m happy that I have come through. I took some big hits and it’s always a worry that you don’t get through them, but the shoulder is fine, everything in training is a controlled environment and is set up for you, out there you don’t know what is going to happen so I got hit in different positions and different angles, and it never budged.

“There’s nothing like games to get you back into the run of things, it has been going on a year and I haven’t played for four months so it’s nice to be back, I don’t want any more injuries, I want a run of games.”

An opportunity for next week? “I don’t know, Joe said everyone has an opportunity but you don’t know what Joe is thinking, what way he will approach the game. He will pick his team and pick a good bench to finish the game, so from my point of view, I feel confident after 51 minutes that I could play some part, obviously. I wouldn’t last 80 minutes but I would be confident now of adding to the squad.”

Ireland escaped with just two injury worries in advance of the Six Nations opener against Italy next week. Fergus McFadden has a rib problem following last night’s game while Mike McCarthy is being assessed after picking up concussion. Of lesser worries are Craig Gilroy (eye injury) and Luke Fitzgerald (stomach bug)

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