Munster's Jack O'Donoghue looks to kick-on

Munster's Jack O'Donoghue looks to kick-on

MAYBE it’s not too surprising that  Munster’s exciting back-row talent Jack O’Donoghue uses the terms ‘going forward’ or ‘go forward’ six times in a seven minute media interview.

After all, that is one of O’Donoghue’s main roles with Munster – to make big yardage carrying the ball around the field.

The dynamic O’Donoghue continues add to his growing reputation. With CJ Stander away on November international duty with Ireland, the UL-Bohs clubman should get his chance to shine in a number eight role in the coming weeks.

Fourth-placed Munster face Ospreys in a crucial Guinness PRO12 clash at Musgrave Park on Friday, 7.35pm.

Number eight remains the versatile O’Donoghue’s favourite position on the park.

“Eight. I prefer number 8 now, but look, with the competition that is there, you will take what you get. Going forward now it is eight,” O’Donoghue says.

The 22-year-old has racked up 43 appearances for Munster since making his debut for the province just over two years ago.

O’Donoghue has made five starts this term.

The autumn international spell provides the Munster players, not involved in the Irish camp with an opportunity to boost their claims for selection for next month’s two mammoth back-to-back Champions Cup fixtures with Leicester Tigers.

“Look, everyone is going to say they want more (gametime), everyone is keen to play at much as they can, but I think the competition that is there at the moment is good for our players,” he enthuses. 

“The depth that we have is good for the squad. Going forward, we want to be winning competitions, that is the kind of depth you need.

“Pre-season was a big one for me. I put on, I think, 4 kilos, and every time you go into the gym you are trying to lift heavier weights and get stronger as you go.

“That is always a focus of mine, anyway, to keep my diet well and try and keep putting on a few pounds.

“When you are competing with someone like CJ (Stander) who is 115kgs at times, you need to be just up there as well trying to compete with him.

Like everyone involved in the Munster squad, O’Donoghue was shocked and deeply saddened to learn of Anthony Foley’s death last month. So how can Munster continue to honour Foley’s memory?

“I think it is about trying to play to Axel’s gameplan and to play to kinda show how he wanted us to play.

Obviously, Glasgow in the Champions Cup, was a massively emotional game for us and we had a lot of passion there.

“Last week was the tough one because you can't say 'we will do it for him again', but I think we can go out and play the way he would have wanted us to play.

“Look, he would have loved the maul operating, the scrum going forward, loves the forward dominating game, the breakdown was obviously a massive one for us as well, so I think the little things like that are kinda what his bread and butter was really, what he loved to see.

“So going forward if we can continue winning those battles and being dominant there, he will certainly live on in the memory."

O’Donoghue has been hugely impressed with the impact Munster defence coach Jacques Nienaber has made since his arrival from South Africa during the summer.

“It has been unbelievable. I love his (Jacques Nienaber’s) gameplan and his mindset. It is real easy to play with.

“Like with the stats from the weekend, there are players coming out there with 20 tackles, 19 tackles, and they are dominant tackles. 

“Trying to get in, hold players up, it is all about buying time for the defensive system to get set, the line to get set. I’m really enjoying it."

And O’Donoghue has been impressed with table toppers UL-Bohs run of results in AIL 1B.

“They have been going very well now. We've George (Murray) above, so it is obviously a good gameplan they are playing. If we can start doing the same now at Munster, we’ll be happy.”