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O'Sullivan savouring O'Connell influence

By Cian Tracey

Losing a player of Caelan Doris' quality was a body blow to Ireland's Under-20 Six Nations hopes, but Jack O'Sullivan went some way towards filling his boots in the defeat to France.

A powerful No.8, the 19-year-old was one of Ireland's stand-out performers in Bordeaux and will be central to their hopes of bouncing back at home to Italy on Friday night.

Playing in the Ulster Bank League with University College Cork has helped his development, as have the two appearances he made in the British and Irish Cup, but playing at the Under-20 Six Nations was a step up.

"Even the pace of the game, it was quicker than B&I. It took a bit of getting used to," O'Sullivan admitted.

"For a lot of us, that was our first time playing at Under-20s level so it just took a bit of getting used to."

Like every other forward in the squad, O'Sullivan is relishing the chance to work with Paul O'Connell, who was extremely vocal judging from the television commentary.

"Obviously you are delighted with a name like Paul O'Connell and all the experience he brings to it," he enthused.

"As a forward as well, you're especially excited. He's been brilliant with us so far.

"He actually didn't say a whole lot (at half-time). They (coaches) were just saying believe in ourselves. They knew we didn't perform to our best. They just wanted us to go out and do our best.

"Once we got into our shape we did fine. I suppose we just have to take that into the Italy game now. We're confident going into it, looking back on our second half."

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