THE ANNOUNCEMENT THAT Wales will provide warm-up opposition for Ireland ahead of next year’s World Cup will bring back bittersweet memories for Tommy O’Donnell as his hopes of featuring in the 2015 tournament ended pre-tournament. 

But getting to Japan in 2019 is a long way down the road for the Tipperary man who has battled back from his latest injury and featured for the first time since March in the 38-0 win over the Cheetahs.

His hopes of playing in the World Cup in England in 2015 died when he suffered a hip injury against Wales in a warm-up match and while he returned for the Six Nations the following spring, opportunities have been limited with Joe Schmidt’s side since. 

There are only three players in the current Munster squad who have played more games for the province than the Clonmel native and he has managed that despite having more injuries than most.

But the 30-year-old, who played his 156th game for Munster at the weekend, is resilient and has battled back from surgery on a shoulder injury picked up against Scarlets back in March.

“It was really good to get back, it’s always great to get back to Thomond Park, it’s been a long enough absence since I left the field in March,” he said. 

“I think the way the game has gone everybody is going to come across injuries. I think that’s the way you have to deal with it as a professional.

“Early season or late season you just have to take your time and know when an injury is fully healed and know when to push to come back. Taking those one or two games and getting back to form is where the real test is I suppose in bouncing back,” said O’Donnell, who won the last of his 12 caps against Scotland in the 2016 Six Nations.

Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

An ankle injury ruled him out of last year’s tour to the USA and Japan and that shoulder injury meant he wasn’t considered for Australia this summer.

His primary aim is to chalk up game-time with Munster in an increasingly competitive back row and if an opportunity comes with Ireland he wants to be ready to embrace it.

“Injuries can happen at any time so you have to be ready. So, if it comes in May or June next year heading into camp all you can do is be there and be fit and be playing a good brand of rugby and that’s where you have to aim for.

“What happens between here and then you never know but you have to aim for that.”

There’s been a bit of edge to clashes between Munster and Glasgow Warriors in recent years and O’Donnell doesn’t expect anything different when they run out at Scotstoun tomorrow evening.

“Yeah, I suppose it’s a physical rivalry, it’s two teams who have high ambitions for themselves and have high standards for themselves.

“They’ll be buoyed from that win at the weekend (against Connacht). It might have been a last-gasp win but they did well to come back.

“They were 10 or so points down so they did well to come back and beat Connacht who are playing well and playing a good brand of rugby.

“To get a win on the first day away from home, they’ll be looking forward to us coming.”

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