Having missed Ireland’s tour to South Africa in favour of his wedding, Tommy O’Donnell will be keeping his diary clear for November after setting the autumn Tests with New Zealand as his target for reclaiming a place in Joe Schmidt’s squad.
O’Donnell, 29, married Elisse in her native Kerry in June.
It meant foregoing, with Ireland head coach Schmidt’s blessing, the chance to face the Springboks in the three-Test series.
Yet now the Munster flanker is determined to make up for lost time by making a strong start to the season with his province and regaining his place in the Ireland set-up ahead of the November Tests.
“It’s probably one of our biggest autumns with the four games, so it’s going to be tough,” O’Donnell said.
“Competition is rife at the moment and there’s plenty of competition for the second row and right across the back row, so lads will be putting up their hands.
“Everyone will be coming off the summer fresh and it’s definitely something to aim for.”
O’Donnell was grateful for Schmidt’s handling of his summer situation.
“I spoke to Joe after the Six Nations and he was very understanding. He said ‘look, you have to get married, you have to pick a date’, you know, you can’t just change it two weeks or a week before or six weeks, so he was very understanding in fairness and in his selection he explained that and that was fair enough.
“My wedding was the Friday, the (final) Test was the Saturday (June 25), so I was able to sit and watch. You know, you’re only going to get married once... well I definitely am, so I had the mentality I was going to enjoy my wedding day and that’s what I did.”
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