IT has been a decent week for Munster’s abrasive back-row forward Tommy O’Donnell.
At the start of it, the UL-Bohs clubman was short-listed for the province’s Senior Player of the Year Award, while on Saturday 27-year-old O’Donnell is in line to make his 100th appearance in the red of Munster.
O’Donnell made his Munster debut against the Scarlets at Musgrave Park in September 2007 and has developed into an integral part of the Ireland squad.
Like a number of his Munster team-mates, O’Donnell will be hoping that a strong finish to the season by the province will result in a significant number of players from the Southern province being propelled into the Irish squad for next autumn’s World Cup.
O’Donnell said: “The best way to put your hand up (for Ireland World Cup squad selection) is to get to a final (PRO12). It is as simple as that. If you get to a final, you are there on the main stage and you can show what you’ve got.
“That is forefront of our minds at the moment, get to a semi-final, get the best semi-final we can and then the final. That is all we are thinking about right now. There are holidays between here and there (Ireland pre World Cup camp) and we will worry about that once we come back into it.”
Munster’s away tie with Ulster in a little over two weeks’ time is widely regarded as the fixture which will decide whether Anthony Foley’s men can secure home advantage at the play-off stage of the PRO12. However, O’Donnell insists the Munster players will be taking nothing for granted in Saturday’s clash with Benetton Treviso at Musgrave Park.
O’Donnell said: “If you approach it (Saturday’s game) in the wrong way, it will be a slip up. But we are not approaching it in a lackadaisical way. It is not like it is in the middle of the 6 Nations.
“We have a strong team out, we know what we have to do. There is only points difference separating ourselves and Ulster so we have to approach it like they are the best team in the League. They will come over here and put in a physical battle. We have watched their games. They do that. They are a tough team, hard to break down. You have to go out there and give your all, then look for the gaps when the game is getting to a high intensity.”
O’Donnell insists his nomination for the Munster Senior Player of the Year award will not affect his focus ahead of Saturday’s game with Treviso.
O’Donnell said: “No, not at all. It is great to be nominated and acknowledged like that. You have to approach this like you would approach any other game. It is like anything.
“You go away with Ireland, you come back, you fit in. The main thing here is fitting in and doing your job with Munster. That (Player of the Year nomination) will look after itself. I have nothing to do with that. It is going to the voting at this stage. I will leave it off.”