O'Donnell owes Penney debt

Date published: May 30 2013

Uncapped Ireland flanker Tommy O'Donnell has publicly expressed his gratitude to Munster coach Rob Penney.

Uncapped Ireland flanker Tommy O'Donnell has publicly expressed his gratitude to Munster coach Rob Penney.

O'Donnell has been called-up to the Ireland squad for their upcoming tour of the United States and Canada.

His selection comes off the back after being named Munster Player of the Year, with team-mates highlighting his words of inspiration in the Heineken Cup quarter-final against Harlequins.

“Rob would be a bit biased because he sees me every day, but it's great to have his confidence,” said O'Donnell.

“He's like that as a coach – he just wants you to go out and have a lash and that's what I did this year. He backed me all the way. He's coached Richie McCaw so knows what the back row is about. He also played there himself.

“It was a real honour to get the player-of-the-year award at Munster. I didn't really think about what it meant until the awards night itself.

“When you hear the names of the lads who won it, you realise what a prestigious award it is. It meant a lot to me and was a great confidence boost.

With several leading Irish players away on the British and Irish Lions tour of Australia, O'Donnell admits that touring North America will be a new challenge – but not one that he is taking lightly.

“It will be a new experience for me. I've been involved in under-age tours but this is something completely different. It has a different feel to it.

“Hopefully I'll be capped and everything will go well with me on the tour. But we can't take the United States for granted.

“They've pumped a whole lot of money into their sevens team, which is getting better and better.

“They have players who are based in Europe, so they have some quality guys who can mix it at world level. It will be tough. Canada will be the same – both are very direct teams who will be looking for a scalp.”

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