Leinster and Ireland rugby player Sean O’Brien was in Kildare Village on Thursday evening to discuss the comparisons between achieving in sport and being successful in retail and hospitality.
It may not seem the most natural of comparisons but the 2011 ERC European Player of the Year didn’t do a bad job of it.
“The main thing today was to emphasise to work hard and to come together as a group within the retail industry,” he explained to the Leinster Leader.
The 25-year-old flanker has been out of action with a hip injury since June but he says his recovery is almost complete.
“It’s going well. Getting there now. Another four weeks until I’m playing again hopefully.”
O’Brien is a regular shopper at Kildare Village, part of the reason he was invited to speak on Thursday.
“A friend-of-a-friend’s sister works here so that’s how I got involved. I’ve been knocking around here a couple of times myself and they’ve seen me and stuff. It’s nice to be asked to do these types of things just to give someone a different perspective and outlook on things.”
Opening the event, the Tullow Tank spoke about some of the skills required both in rugby and in the working environment.
“It’s a bit different than sport obviously but there’s a lot of things related to each other about communication, relationships within the team environment and how to get the best out of your employees.”
O’Brien himself had a few part time jobs growing up.
“I worked in a petrol station at home for a while, I worked in a bar and stuff like that so I’ve done a little bit in my time. I was only about 17-18. Before I started playing rugby professionally anyway.”
Famously, O’Brien also still works on the family farm near Tullow, putting some of his earnings towards farm machinery. However, his time at home is limited.
“You get little windows to do both – a couple of evenings a week. I suppose it is difficult.
“Rugby’s my profession and I have to commit to that but I’m still involved a little bit here and there and I’m happy enough with the involvement I have at the moment anyway. Maybe down the line I could get more involved.”
He might have to take it a bit easy on the farm for now, until he recovers from injury. A lot of work goes into recovery.
“I have to be in bed early then. If I’m doing extra stuff on my feet I have to be more disciplined that way.”
When it came down to his preferred career, however, there was no hesitation.
“Definitely rugby. Farming is more of a way of life.
“Obviously it’s a very good way of life but my love for rugby is that little bit greater.”
- Liam Godinho