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Paul In A Day’s Work For Talent Camps

25th July 2017 By The Editor

Paul In A Day’s Work For Talent Camps

Paul O'Connell has continued to contribute to Munster Rugby long after his retirement - INPHO/Cathal Noonan

As the weeks have progressed, the current crop in the Bank of Ireland Munster Rugby Talent Camps have slowly but surely found their feet in its new home at the University of Limerick, and are getting down to the serious work of preparing for their interprovincial competitions.

As the weeks have progressed, the current crop in the Bank of Ireland Munster Rugby Talent Camps have slowly but surely found their feet in its new home at the University of Limerick, and are getting down to the serious work of preparing for their interprovincial competitions.

The Munster U18 Schools, U18 Clubs, and U19s squads have all been getting the very best of coaching, both technically, physically, but also mentally, as they get an insight into the life as a professional rugby player.

Strength and conditioning coach Feargal O’Callaghan has been working with the group, and on their second day these young players were getting advice from Munster Rugby legend Paul O’Connell, who already worked with some of our young players on lineout technique, but was this time switching his focus to techniques off-the-field.

While training both technically and physically has never been better for these young players, evidenced by the recent Lions representation of pathway players Peter O’Mahony and Conor Murray, the lifestyle and mental aspects are something O’Callaghan has been increasingly including into the players’ schedule.

“We do care about the players inside Munster Rugby, and we want to do more than just turn them into robotic rugby players, and for the players themselves to know that we’re looking after them while they’re with us in several aspects.

“Day two and their first education talk was from Paul O’Connell, which was brilliant. Paul is a hero for some of them, and the fact that it’s he was delivering the message which has a much greater impact than coming from any of us.

“We asked Paul to speak a little about his career, who spoke about his initial experiences with professionalism, having been part of that initial transition. Paul would have been bad at certain things like organisation, and taking responsibility in running his diary, but as he went up through Irish and Munster ranks he would have begun to make those things a priority.

“When the diary on the Sunday came in, he would have been looking to see where in the week he was able to get extra work in, to the point where he went to the other extreme and was too obsessive about it, until the end of his career, where he found that by being really organised he was able to be relaxed more, and be serious when he needed to be.

“We don’t want these (talent camp) guys to be a few years into their career before they realise that they could have been doing these things. Paul is passing on this information to these guys so they can learn the easy way, and be more organised in looking after themselves, and we encourage them to take that weekly schedule and take that personal responsibility.”

It’s a huge advantage of these camps, that the young players who will hopefully one day put on a Munster jersey are exposed early to the potential pitfalls, not only in terms of their playing career, but also their day-to-day lives as a rugby player, a job that’s so unique.

“The lads are a fantastic group, and obviously we have to keep on top of them. They’re not used to having such freedom coming from a school environment where here they have a little bit more freedom to make choices, we’re just trying to give them the ammunition to make good choices.

“We try to do, where possible, at the end of the day, a little review, and ask them ‘what did you learn today?’. One day I pulled Aidan O’Connell in, who’s one of our senior S&C guys, and he was blown away by what these guys know at such a young age.

“Obviously we want them to be better rugby players, my job as a Strength and Conditioning coach is to make them better athletes, but ultimately we want them to be better, more responsible people, and ultimately if they progress to the academy and the senior team, they show the coaches from day one that they know how to do things without having to be told.”

We’ll have more updates from Feargal about some of the modules the players have undertaken, as well as their ongoing development on the pitch, as they continue their preparations, not only for this season’s interpros, but hopefully one day as Munster Rugby stars, like the famous second-row speaking to them.

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