TOMMY O’Donnell is preaching caution. Perhaps it’s understandable for a player who recently resumed playing having missed the guts of three months of the season due to a knee injury.
Munster are flying high at the top of Pool 6 of the Heineken Cup and also lead the way in the RaboDirect PRO12, but O’Donnell is refusing to take anything for granted.
O’Donnell said: “We are in a strong position in the Heineken Cup pool but there are still two games to go. Anything can happen yet. It is Cup rugby at its best. Bouncing balls can fall either way. There is nothing settled. We were well off the pace last year and we still managed to qualify from the pool and end up in the semi-finals.
“That is what the Heineken Cup brings. It’s the beauty of the competition. Anything can happen.”
During his extended time on the sidelines, O’Donnell did get the boost of signing a new two-year contract extension with the province
“Signing a new deal in the middle of that (injured period) was good.
“It was probably tense enough, knowing I was in a contract year, knowing that I had the injury,” O’Donnell admitted.
“I was just happy we worked out a deal and I am happy with the deal that I am staying here in Munster.
“Hopefully, the other guys will sign on this year, especially with the way we are going, it is going to make it easy to sign on. There is a great atmosphere in the club and it is where the lads want to stay.
“The season didn’t get off the way I would have wanted it to. Once the timeline for my recovery was set out, I targeted a couple of games. The rehab went very well and I am just glad to be back.
“When the injury occurred I had a day or two when you were a bit bitter and angry. But once the surgery was over and done with, it was healing straight away and just got on with it.
“I was given a date of about 12 weeks and that is what I went for. I went about what I did, icing, working, compressing, it was like preparing for a match, you were getting yourself right again.
“For a while when the injury initially happened, it didn’t look like I would make last weekend’s game with Perpignan. But I just kept my head down and kept going.”
While O’Donnell played a key role in JJ Hanrahan’s dramatic match-winning try in Perpignan last week, he is quick to play it down.
“I wouldn’t say my part in the try was that big. JJ had the harder part, a one-on-one with a full-back is always the toughest because they are the best tacklers usually on a team, the last line of defence. But JJ (Hanrahan) set it up brilliantly.”