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26th Apr 2019

Eric O’Sullivan: I take inspiration from Tadhg Furlong and Cian Healy

Jack O'Toole

Eric O’Sullivan was playing for Trinity College rugby and preparing for his exams when the head of Ulster’s academy Kieran Campbell made a phone call to him one day.

Ulster were short on props due to injury at the time and Campbell reached out to O’Sullivan to see if he’d be interested in heading up the M1 and playing a few games with the Ulster A team.

O’Sullivan said it was a ‘no brainer’ to grab his boots, bag and car keys and head north and before long he was offered a spot on the team’s senior squad.

His goal at the start of the season was to earn five caps for Ulster, an objective he has had to quickly refocus given that he has already racked up 24 games for the province, but he told a press briefing earlier this week that players like Rory Best and Marty Moore have made it easier for him adjusting to life in pro rugby.

“He’s been very good for me personally,” O’Sullivan said of Best.

“He helps everyone in the squad, he’s been there done that. He has so much knowledge. I don’t think there’s any problem you can go to him with that he hasn’t seen before. If you need help scrummaging, he’ll help you, he’ll go into the review room and have a look at it with you.

“Then on the pitch he’ll give you little cues that keep you right. It’s great to have  him there in some of the bigger games when you might be a bit nervous. He gives you confidence.

“He wouldn’t be one to  lose the head or shout, but if he gives you a look in training you know you’ve messed up and you won’t do it again.

“He’s very good that way, stays calm and has a word when it’s appropriate.”

O’Sullivan has made a great start to life in the front-row at Ulster with Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt even name checking him earlier this season. The Dubliner was flattered by the mention but knows he still has a long way to go and looks to improve his scrummaging with his general play already at a very decent standard.

“If you think you’ve made it you’ll get punished pretty quick. Obviously scrummaging will be a big area in the off season.

“Breakdown work, if I can get to a stage when my breakdown is like Tadhg Furlong then it will be good for me and Ulster.”

Ulster will take on Leinster this Saturday as they prepare for the PRO14 play-offs and O’Sullivan admits that he looks at Blues duo Cian Healy and Tadhg Furlong as the benchmark for him to aspire to try and reach.

“Between himself and Cian Healy, as a loosehead he’d be the example of what you can achieve. Tadhg Furlong is probably the best tighthead in the world, so I think they’re two guys to take inspiration from.

“When you see them just down the road in Leinster that adds a bit of spice, if you can be better than them Ulster will be in a great position.”

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