With both the senior and U20s Irish squads taking on Italy in the Six Nations this weekend, Ireland U20s star Evan O'Connell has revealed what it's like having former Munster, Ireland and Lions captain Paul O'Connell as his uncle, speaking about the advantages that come with it.
As a rugby player, Evan was probably never meant to be playing out in the glorious lights of backs rugby but instead doing the hard slog in scrums and rucks all day. He comes from good rugby stock - a family of men who enjoy the graft of the second row. His uncle Paul one of the best to ever do it, his father Justin also an AIL stalwart lock, and even their father before them a second row as well. It's is a tradition that runs deep in the family and with that pedigree of rugby player behind him it's really no surprise that Evan is the player he is, and reaching the heights he is.
Speaking to reporters this week, the Munster academy lock spoke about what it's like having the older generation to help him out and to rely on for advice. Talking about his uncle, and Ireland forwards coach Paul O'Connell, Evan revealed how supporting he is from regular chats all the way to video trimmings from the traditional Ireland U20's v Senior training session.
Yeah it's unreal
We regularly chat and go over bits of video. Like just last week, he sent me a clip from the session with the seniors. He is very good to me in that regard. He is always willing to help and just to have that level of coach available as your uncle to help you out is massive.
Despite the heights his uncle reached in his incredible career, and his role in the current Irish set up, sometimes you just can't beat fatherly advice. With that, Evan revealed that his Father is still a huge inspiration to him and on hand with all the support he needs as well as a bit of constructive criticism:
My dad has been a huge inspiration. He’s always on to me. He’s always there for me because he’s coaching the (Bohs) 20s. He’s always trying to pick up stuff off me, you know, that I see as well. He is always great to encourage me and in calling me out if I’m doing anything wrong.
Richie Murphy has named 18-year-old O'Connell on the bench for this weekend's Ireland U20s v Italy game in Treviso, while Paul will be in Rome for the senior game in what will hopefully for all of us be another successful week for Ireland in Italy.