O'Leary hopes to re-find form at Exiles
July 6, 2012
Tomas O'Leary has opted to swap the PRO12 for the Premiership © Getty Images
London Irish's new signing Tomas O'Leary has his eyes set on a recall to the Ireland national side but recognises that first he must impress in the Aviva Premiership.
The Exiles kick off their new season against Saracens on September 1 with O'Leary set to be the first-choice No.9 ahead of the less-experienced Darren Allinson and Ross Sansom but this is not the case on the international scene.
He was absent from the Ireland squad for the 2011 Rugby World Cup - with Irish boss Brian Smith claiming that O'Leary had been made a "scapegoat" - and has since made just two appearances off the bench during this year's Six Nations. However, having swapped Munster and the PRO12 for the Premiership stage, O'Leary is hopeful that some impressive club form will be enough to catch the eye of Ireland boss Declan Kidney.
"Everybody would prefer to be first choice for your country," O'Leary told ESPN. "But that's one of the reasons why I came to London Irish where I hope I'll get regular games and regular rugby and re-establish myself as an international rugby player to.
"I still have ambitions to play for Ireland but I need to play well for London Irish and get a good run of form - if that leads to getting back into the international team then brilliant but first of all it's about getting back to a stage where you are enjoying your rugby."
O'Leary was linked with a move to Perpignan when it became apparent that his days at Munster were over - partly due to Conor Murray's charge into the scrum-half spot - but the Exiles announced his signature back in March. Smith had barely settled in back at London Irish having cut his ties with England but he moved quickly to secure his new scrum-half.
"Brian seemed pretty ambitious and he wanted to set up a winning culture at the club so hopefully I can try and add to that," O'Leary said. "There were one or two options abroad but when I spoke to Brian and sat down and met him, I was impressed with him and it also helped that the move to London would be pretty seamless so I felt it was the best fit for me.
"There's a big Irish community over in London and I was excited by the prospect of getting involved with that. I'm fully committed to London Irish and I was very happy to sign a three-year deal so hopefully I can repay their faith."
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Tom Hamilton is the Assistant Editor of ESPNscrum.