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Dropped Donnacha O'Callaghan has sights on 100 club

By Cian Treacy

Donnacha O'Callaghan has refused to close the door on his international career as he bids to join the select group who have won 100 caps for Ireland.

As Joe Schmidt's side got their Six Nations campaign off to a solid start, O'Callaghan's omission from the original 44-man extended squad ended a long-standing run of being involved with Ireland.

As a man who always wears his heart on his sleeve, the Cork native isn't about to shy away from the reality of the situation he finds himself in.

"It's very weird, I won't lie. It was my first time not being at a national camp since I was 18 or 19 years of age. It is tough mentally, but I suppose it gives you a different window to do something else," said the 94-times capped lock.

While most of the Munster squad were given a week off after the final pool game of the Heineken Cup, O'Callaghan spent his time working on what he calls his "foundation building blocks" as he gears up for a crucial four weeks with Munster.

"Sometimes when you're involved in the camps the whole time, you don't get to work on the basics. It allows you to get a bit of strength and conditioning work done and that's the way I've been looking at it."

Ever the realist, O'Callaghan doesn't hold any grudges against Schmidt – a coach whom he admits having an "enormous amount of respect for."

Looking at the bigger picture, the 34-year-old is fully aware of the quality within the Ireland squad at the moment.

The emergence of Dan Tuohy hasn't exactly helped his cause, but O'Callaghan doesn't need telling that he still has plenty to offer.

"Joe rang me and we had a great chat about selection. Even the small things like having the common courtesy to give you a bell was really appreciated," he said.

"For players it's all about playing. Your performances reflect selection and that's where I have to get to. It stokes my fire – I want to be back playing for my country."

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