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O'Donnell ready to seize his chance
05 Feb 2016 22:10
Munster flanker Tommy O'Donnell admitted he feared he'd never play again after dislocating his hip against Wales last summer, and has vowed to savour every minute he gets in a green jersey.
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O'Donnell will make his first Ireland appearance at the Aviva Stadium on Sunday for the Six Nations opener against the Welsh since he was stretchered off in the World Cup warm-up win at the Millennium Stadium back in August.
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A hamstring injury to Sean O'Brien has opened the door for the 28-year-old this weekend, and it's an opportunity he's ready to seize with both hands.
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"There was a period where I thought I’d played my last game of rugby," O'Donnell told RTÉ Sport.
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"With the pain I was in that's bound to go through your mind. But as soon as I woke up from the anaesthetic and my hip was back in I felt, ‘this isn’t too bad’.
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"[Former Ireland team doctor] Eanna Falvey said if that if injury went the wrong way I wasn't coming back from it, but it just happened to go the right way the whole time. I spring-boarded off every bit of good news towards my rehab.
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"Every cap is important. I’ve learned how hard they are to come by, I value every one of them and I’m relishing the chance to get my hand on that jersey again."
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"As soon as I woke up from the anaesthetic and my hip was back in I felt, ‘this isn’t too bad’."
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O'Donnell's Munster team-mate CJ Stander will make his Test debut on Sunday in what's certain to be an unflinchingly bruising encounter.
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Joe Schmidt has named the South African-born flanker at blindside for the visit of Warren Gatland's power-packed team, and O'Donnell is confident the 23-year-old has every attribute required to thrive in the Test arena.
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"It’ll be very exciting to see how CJ goes. I’m delighted for him, I think he’s deserved it, he’s been outstanding for us all season and he really deserves to get a crack at the jersey.
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"This guy has proven a number of times how well he’s able to shoulder the burden and the duty.
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"From the minute he came [to Munster] he's just blossomed. His character, his attitude... he’s just a great guy.
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"He’s steadily got better and better over the three years. This guy has become more Munster than some of the guys there. We consider him a Munster man – and an Irish man.
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"We’re able to help each other out and point each other in the right direction. As we lock down our plays and our detail the nerves will start to go away. If you’re prepared enough you won’t have nerves."
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Follow Ireland v Wales live from 2pm on RTÉ2 and RTÉ Radio 1 and via the live blog on RTÉ News Now and RTÉ.ie.
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