"My pure focus is on Munster": Jack O'Donoghue not getting carried away with talk of an Ireland call-up

Joe Schmidt names his squad for the upcoming Six Nations Championship on Sunday

Jack O'Donoghue, Munster, Munster Rugby, Champions Cup

Image: ©INPHO/Tommy Dickson 

Jack O'Donoghue says his complete focus remains solely on Munster and not on the international side ahead of the Irish province's final Champions Cup pool game against Racing 92.

Joe Schmidt will name his panel for the Six Nations on Sunday and talk has persisted that a number of the Munster squad could be in with a shout of making the team.

Rory and Niall Scannell have impressed so far this season, with established internationals CJ Stander, Peter O'Mahony and Simon Zebo all enjoying excellent campaigns thus far.

With a place in the Champions Cup quarter-final already in the bag, a win against the French side would see them secure top spot and a home draw in the quarter-final.

Rassie Erasmus's side returned to Paris two weeks ago to secure a bonus point victory against the Top 14 side, who were out of the competition going into the game.

O'Donoghue remained reserved about his chances of representing Ireland in the Six Nations which begins next month with a trip to Scotland. 

"I got called in for the November series and was handed a start against Canada," he said. "That was a massive milestone for my career. That just means I have to push on now and secure more with the Six Nations around the corner.

"I'm trying to play for Munster but at the back of your mind, I'm trying to push on with Ireland too. Whether I get the call or not, my pure focus is on Munster this weekend."

Versatile

The 23-year-old stepped in for the injured Tommy O'Donnell for their trip to Paris and says he is happy to slip in to whatever position required.

"[Playing at no. 8] allows you to get in good positions to carry the ball. I always identified that as a strength in my game. Whether I get called in as no. 6, no. 7 or no. 8 I'm happy enough.

"I'll do the role and try better the team and try secure a quarter-final. I've no problem standing in at no. 7."

 

Jack O'Donoghue speaks to the media ahead of Munster's clash with Racing 92 this weekend in the Champions Cup. Image: ©INPHO/Tommy Dickson 

O'Donoghue also paid tribute to former head coach Anthony Foley integrating him into the Munster and helping to improve his game.

"Axel was the one who brought me through and gave me chances, so I've a lot to thank him for. It's a tough time when you used to go into his office on Monday and have a chat about your game. He's not there to do that anymore and he was always a mentor to me.

"It was tough to take but we're pushing on with the season. We haven't forgotten him and I don't think we ever will.

"He's always at the back of our minds. This is the way he wanted us to play and this is the way he coached us to play. We're trying to do him justice by going out and playing this way."

Their performances of late hark back to the Munster of the early noughties, but O'Donoghue says memories of "the good ol' days" don't inspire him as much as the present.

"For me, they're just new days because I haven't actually experienced anything like this. This is my first involvement in the European squad that has made the quarter-final. To secure a home quarter-final is going to be massive for us."