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Sean O’Brien exclusive: Ireland are confident of a Grand Slam in the 6 Nations, and why you have to be tougher than a jockey to be in the pack

'The Tullow Tank' Sean O'Brien talks exclusively to the Paddy Power Blog about Leinster, 6 Nations, and why he's harder than Ruby Walsh

by Josh Powell | January 10, 2015

Paddy Power enlisted Leinster and Ireland flanker Sean O’Brien for the Power Summit 2015 – a day of career opportunities, behind-the-scenes hi-jinks, schmoozing and free swag at Power Tower. Luckily he spared five minutes from presenting to talk to the PP Blog about all things rugby and racing.

The Tullow Tank on… Leinster’s challenge

It’s been an up and down season for Leinster and there have been plenty of injuries – that’s not an excuse mind. There has been a lot of mixing and matching of combinations at times, but we really showed what we were made of in the last game against Ulster. We showed what we were capable of, particularly coming from behind to win. It’s hard to say when you’re not involved, and not out on the field, to say what exactly is going wrong on. There’s nothing major standing out that is a big issue, just little things in games have gone against us. Over the next few weeks I’m going to be back introduced to training and getting a couple of other lads back will be a big help to Leinster.

Sean-OBrien-training

The big danger to us in the European Champions Cup is Wasps and the way they’re going at the minute. That game will be massive for us and we can’t afford to slip up. We have to leave ourselves in the best possible position and that will start with the next game against Castres. We can’t afford to make a mistake in either game, simple as that. We have to go after it.

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The Tullow Tank on… 6 Nations glory

I haven’t been involved in the Ireland set up for a year or so, but in that time a lot has happened in terms of their success, and confidence is very high.

There are an awful lot of talented players trying to stake their place in the national team and I’m going to have a battle on my hands to try to get back in there when I’m fit. The team has been settled over the last 12 months and a number of good combinations have been working well together. Everyone is chomping at the bit, fighting for places. That’s the way it is, but that’s the way you want it as well. You need competition to improve and be successful, so the more the merrier.

Sean-OBrien-Ireland

We’re going in to the 6 Nations with massive hopes of winning the Grand Slam, but every player in every country is going to say that. We are no different. We have the confidence, we have the players, we are playing a nice brand of rugby and it’s very exciting going into a tournament with this self-belief.

The Tullow Tank on… Tough jockeys and Festival hopes

The comparison between being a jockey or being in the pack is a good one – but I’d much rather be a jockey than get some of the belts we get on the field. I have so much respect for jockeys and what they have to go through, but our collisions are every single week.

Sean-OBrien-tackle

They might have a fall every four or five weeks, but we take a hit every couple of minutes during a game. Both are extremely tough industries and to be a jockey, to get up early in the morning and ride out in any weather, is a huge commitment. There is a huge respect there for jockeys, and you wouldn’t catch me calling Ruby Walsh soft!

The Tullow Tank was disappointing last time out at Leopardstown and they found a small infection in his lung that time. Hopefully that clears up, because he was very impressive winning a chase at Fairyhouse at the start of November. He showed what he could do there so hopefully he improves on that run. He picks up well, he loves his jumping, so hopefully he heads to Cheltenham sound. Bring on the Festival!

[Editor’s note: The Tullow Tank is a horse named after Sean O’Brien, trained by Ms Sandra Hughes]

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