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I wish I'd found voice sooner and helped Drico: O'Callaghan

By Cian Tracey

He knew he should have stood up and said something, but Donncha O'Callaghan allowed the moment to pass him by again.

As he looked around the dressing room, as one of the more experienced players, he would have been expected to speak up, yet his mind was racked with doubt.

Would anyone listen to him? Would they take any notice?

O'Callaghan was coming from a Munster dressing room that had won everything, but even still, he shied away from the responsibility. It wasn't the first time and it wouldn't be the last. Instead it was left to the likes of Brian O'Driscoll and Paul O'Connell to rally the troops. On the bus home, not saying anything still rankled with O'Callaghan.

"Maybe it was a confidence thing," he said. "I remember I would chat with Drico about something coming back and I would say, 'I'm not comfortable with chatting about this but I think this about the weekend'.

"In a captain's meeting then, he would say, 'I chatted to Donners about this'. And that helped me find my voice. He was encouraging me there but I was too naive to actually grab it by the horns and say, 'Drico, what I'm actually trying to say is this'."

Stepping out of his comfort zone, O'Callaghan knew he would find out a lot about himself. The extent of the learnings were laid bare shortly after he arrived in Worcester, as the Cork native was left to reflect on how much of an impact he had in the Munster dressing room.

From the outside looking in, O'Callaghan was a real driving force behind his home province's glory days, but there are regrets.

When he joined Worcester in 2015, the club looked at the veteran lock as the ideal role model to help the younger players.

Three years later, O'Callaghan, now club captain, has been a hugely positive influence in Worcester, but at the end of the season, he will bring the curtain down on his 20-year career.

Playing with the Premiership strugglers has shown the 38-year-old a different side of the game, yet despite his medal collection with Munster, he feels that he could have done more.

"It wasn't until I went to Worcester that I found my voice," O'Callaghan admitted. "I nearly feel like apologising to my captains. I used to look at Drico giving me a dirty look when I gave away a stupid penalty and I'd be thinking, 'What's his problem? What's up with him?'

"Now I realise, that's a massive three points. That's so hard to earn. I was naive.

"I know I could have helped those guys an awful lot more by just speaking up or even self-policing. I did that in certain aspects but I still feel that I could have been of more use.

"Last week, Sammy Lewis spoke in our dressing room. It was an unbelievable chat and he had the lads hopping. I got a huge buzz out of it.

"But then I'm thinking, 'How many times did I do that for Drico or Paulie?' It is a regret."

Before he returns home to his family in Cork in May, there is the small matter of helping his side remain in the Premiership.

"What I thought were sacrifices, they're not," he added. "It's me being selfish. I need to be around home. I need to be a good dad. I want to find my way a bit."

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