22nd Mar, 2019

O'Callaghan: There's a bus-full of young international stars amongst our ranks

Aaron Wise 30th Aug, 2017 Updated: 30th Aug, 2017

IRELAND veteran Donncha O’Callaghan has revealed his honour at being named Warriors skipper for the 2017/18 season and hopes to use the role to create future leaders at the club.

The lock captained the Sixways outfit towards the end of last season and helped them to secure their Premiership status.

He’s now been handed the captain’s armband ahead of his third season at Worcester and is relishing the challenge.

“For me it’s a massive honour to lead the side this season. It’s not something I take lightly,” said O’Callaghan.

“As a young player I was very lucky to always be around good leaders, but I would have never imagined myself in this type of role.

“But now I actually see the importance of being the leg-up for our younger guys. I think by the end of this season, it would be a poor job by me and a disservice to those lads if I haven’t actually helped them to grow.

“It’s a big role for me to help them along so it’s great having leadership, but our performances are where we’re measured so we need to bring it this year. If we fulfil our potential I think we can achieve something really special.”

The British and Irish Lions lock believes the club is brimming with international talent and he is adamant the younger players will flourish if they make their voices heard.

“We have a really good leadership group order now with Wynand (Olivier), GJ (van Velze) and Millsy (Ryan Mills), but there’s a beautiful group just below them, including Will Spencer, Jack Singleton, Huw Taylor and Jamie Shillcock, who actually don’t know that there leaders yet,” he added.

“You talk to them in private and they nail the key points of the weekend, but they’re a little bit afraid and lack that confidence to put it across to the wider group.

“So it’s up to the older group of players like myself to actually grab those guys and say ‘no, you’re right, you need to say it’ and back them, because they’re the guys who are going to drive this club forward.

“I want to be going down to Twickenham in a few years’ time to watch some of those guys represent their country. That would be brilliant. We have Ben T’eo in the England camp now and if we can have a car-full next year and bus-full in the years to come that would be even better.

“Our younger group is brilliant, but the only thing is, if we don’t support them and help them and let sloppy standards creep in which they think is the norm, then we’ve done them an injustice. All those young players can kick on and represent their respective countries if they put the work in.”

O’Callaghan hailed teammate and former colleague for 15 years at Munster, Peter Stringer, as one of the most competitive players he has ever shared a pitch with.

“Sometimes people forget how competitive he is. It’s frustrating for me when I hear people saying his experience will help the younger players. It 100 per cent will, but he’ll do it whilst competing for his spot in the team. He’s hungry to play just as much as anyone else,” he added.

“He’s meticulous in everything he does, from his preparation to how he plays. I saw him practising his kicking the morning after one of his kicks didn’t go right in the Munster game and he was in the height of depression. That’s that type of player he is.

“He’s the crossest guy I’ve ever come across on a pitch because he sets standards for his pack and wants them to do well. He makes you reach beyond yourself.

“If guys like Shillcock, Singleton and Taylor pick a few nuggets off a player like Stringer they’ll be in a great spot.”

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