In Conversation With Donncha
3rd February 2005 By Munster Rugby
The Gloucester coach Nigel Melville, in his regular column in The Guardian newspaper, mentions Donncha O Callaghan as a possible Lions partner to Paul O Connell, saying, The easy pairing would be the Irish duo of Paul O’Connell and Malcolm O’Kelly, but I think we might have seen the best of the latter, who would celebrate his 31st birthday on tour. The other Munster jumper to O’Connell, Donncha O’Callaghan, is a younger alternative, but I fancy the mix of O’Connell (a candidate for captain) and England’s Danny Grewcock.
All this brought a smile to O Callaghan as he got his things together prior to departure to Italy with the Ireland side for the Six Nations opener on Sunday.
Here, I think yer man Melville s a great coach. Pity he s not the Lions coach. Actually going on that if he were the Irish coach I d be laughing.
“No, but seriously though, it’s nonsense really. At the minute I m on the bench for Ireland and the way things have been going I can t have any complaints. So it s all very well for fellas to be saying this and that about Lions, it doesn t interest me right now. I’d say I’m as far from the Lions side as Ireland is from New Zealand,
” There’s the Six Nations to concentrate on first. My objective is to try and get into the Ireland side and the way Paul and Malcolm are playing that s not going to be easy. But I think the important thing for me is to keep myself right to stay in the squad. If I get a run so be it. It s then up to me to take the opportunity. I have a job to do within the framework of this squad and that s what I will concentrate on and see what happens as a result.
Looking back on the last few games, Munster s form isn t of great concern to O Callaghan. I think the good thing is that we re in the quarter finals of the Heineken Cup and we know at the same time that we haven t performed as we should. But then you look back at our Pool form last year and I don t know if it was much better.
” We won by a point in Bourgoin, got hammered in Gloucester and struggled for long periods against Treviso over there. The year before we lost badly in Perpignan and Kingsholm so I dunno why but we seem to struggle in Pool stages and go well at the knock-outs. Hopefully it will be the same this year.
Having said that though, the trip to Biarritz is going to be awesome. They look a real good side probably second only to Toulouse on form so far but at least we know exactly what needs to be done. Like, there s none of this playing for a bonus and that s where I think we re best. When we were playing Harlequins there was the talk of a bonus point. I know we said we had to win the game first and then go for the bonus but it s always on your mind and sometimes without realising you re doing things you wouldn t normally do. I mean 3-0 will do us down there. And we can do the three nils. Ask Connacht.
“The Celtic League match last week was disappointing in that with a load of us joining up with the nationals we d have liked to have left on a high note. As it was it was a very flat note. We made a lot of errors and at crucial times. Like I knocked on from a restart and they scored. Anthony Foley spilled one and they scored and Ronan s pass was intercepted and they scored.
“But all that aside this is Llanelli we re talking about. They were no bad side and we might have had a few tries ourselves. I mean put it this way, forgetting about the mistakes, but if we d had the rub they had then I think it might have been different. I mean Christian Cullen was stopped just short in the opening half, he slipped on other occasion, and Anthony Foley just lost control in a tackle as he was going for the line.
Ok they deserved their win, no question but I think even they d agree it was closer game than the final scoreline read.
For O Callaghan the next few weeks are spent in City West. We arrived here last Sunday and we ll be here up until next Wednesday week, that s after the Scotland game. We get home for a few days then. I don t know but depending on how things go I might get a run with Munster in the game against Glasgow and then hopefully back to prepare for the game against England.