Date of birth: 23 May, 1996. Country: Ireland


How did you get into rugby?
My first sport was Gaelic football, which I started when I was three or four, with St Mary’s. I played until U18s and we won lots of county titles. I started at Sligo rugby club when I was six or seven. I enjoyed it but I wasn’t any good when I was younger.

Have you played in many different positions?
I used to be a winger until I was nine or ten, then Four Star Pizza came to town and that turned me into a front row! I’ve bee a prop since I was about 12 and can play on both sides of the scrum.

Do you prefer one side?
I have played a lot of loosehead this season but I’m way more used to playing tighthead and that is where I would like to be in the long term.

When did you start to take your rugby seriously?
When I got into the Connacht squad at U15s. I started to put my mind to it more and more. I started taking better care of myself. I didn’t go to a rugby school so I did a lot of extra training by myself.

Are you still studying?
I am at NUIG (National University of Ireland in Galway) doing business, part-time.

What has it been like playing in the Pro12 and Challenge Cup this season?
There were a lot of injuries at Connacht so I got a chance. It’s a great experience. I’ve learnt loads already. The Connacht Eagles and Ireland U20 matches prepared me well for it, but it’s still a step up.

What are your aims now?
To be part of a wining team in the U20 Six Nations and World Championship. The talent is there but we will have to work very hard. Hopefully I’ll get more Connacht caps too.

RW Verdict: O’Donnell has played for Ireland U18 and made nine appearances for the U20s last season. With Pro12 and European rugby experience under his belt now too, he should kick on in the green of Ireland and Connacht.

First published in the March 2016 edition of Rugby World magazine.