O'Leary - I want success
Munster number nine to make Six Nations debut on Saturday
Last Updated: February 5, 2009 4:09pm
O'Leary: Six Nations debut
Ireland scrum-half Tomas O'Leary has said that a first Six Nations success for the country in 24 years would be a "brilliant achievement".
The Munster number nine makes his tournament debut on Saturday, when Ireland host France at Croke Park.
Coming into Declan Kidney's side, O'Leary said he could see the desire of more experienced players to end a barren run stretching back to 1985.
"A lot of the lads here have been tipping away and knocking on the door for the last five or six years aiming to win a Six Nations title," he said.
"I can definitely see they want to win it badly and I'm no different coming into this environment. I want success. That's all that is going to be acceptable for us. They've been knocking on the door and want it bad.
"I wouldn't say the older players are anxious, it's just ambition. Fellows don't want to retire in five or six years and look back and say, 'We should have won a Grand Slam', or, 'We should have won a Six Nations'.
"The fact we haven't won a Six Nations or even looked like winning a Grand Slam speaks for itself in terms of how difficult a competition it is to win. If we could win a Six Nations it would be a brilliant achievement."
O'Leary was quick to reject suggestions that Munster and Leinster players place Heineken Cup glory ahead of Six Nations success, adding: "Definitely not, that's rubbish.
"It's the ultimate honour to play for Ireland. You're representing your country."
The 25-year-old is now seen as first choice for both club and country after paying his dues serving as understudy to long-time first choice Peter Stringer.
Stringer now serves as O'Leary's deputy - the newcomer thankful for his mentor's guidance, even though he admitted to occasional feelings of impatience.
"Peter is a great player," O'Leary said. "I learned what I can from Peter. I still try to do that and the competition is great for both of us. It makes you train harder and develop aspects of our game.
"I suppose the key thing is not to panic and not to get too frustrated. There are times when you do get impatient. You try to stay fresh and work harder - that's what I did."
O'Leary also welcomed the fact that his Six Nations bow will see him forming a half-back partnership with his club team-mate, Ronan O'Gara.
"I've been playing with Ronan for the last few years, knowing his game and him getting used to mine," he added.
"It's great to have that sort of guy beside you for the direction he gives and the experience he has. He is a class footballer as well. He's brilliant to have beside you."