"Is this proper care of medicine?"- Donncha O'Callaghan airs concerns about painkiller use in rugby

Ex-Munster and Ireland lock is now at Worcester and chats to Off The Ball

BY Raf Diallo 20:29 Thursday 13 October 2016, 20:29 13 Oct 2016

Donncha O’Callaghan©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

At 37, Donncha O'Callaghan is still lacing up his rugby boots as a professional.

The former Munster and Ireland lock is currently on the books at Worcester Warriors since last September and in his typically humorous self-deprecating style, the Cork-man tells Off The Ball that he does realise what age he is.

"I'm near on 37 but I'm an absolute dinosaur. You'd call it Generation X or Y but it's like I've actually landed on an alien craft or something going into a dressing room because I've never seen lads who look after themselves so well...guys asking for moisturiser. I feel like going 'John Hayes in here and he'd be slapping lads. So it's different but I love it," he said of life as an elder statement at Worcester. 

He also admitted that the second row position is one "where you could go as long as you want" in terms of retirement age, but will make a decision about his long-term future once Christmas arrives. 

He also acknowledged that "your body doesn't have to break down for you to stop". 

Pictured today Donncha O’Callaghan gives out the new Vodafone Ireland rugby jersey ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

But in the words of James Brown, he's feeling good at the moment, even if recovery time is longer than in his Munster and Ireland days.

"Body-wise, mentally and physically, I'm at the level. My stats are good, my scores are good," he said, adding that the physical and slower style of the Aviva Premiership suits him, even if as he says it's not easy on the eye.

Remaining competitive was one reason why he made the move away from Munster in search of continued involvement.

"It was one of the reasons for me leaving Munster. I felt like a fraud. I really did. I wasn't togging out. I wasn't of use to the team but yet I was draining in terms of my salary and stuff like that," he said, adding that it was "emotional" given his attachment to Munster, although he feels he has also grown as a person by making a move away and getting out of his comfort zone.

With rising scrutiny over the use of drugs in rugby, O'Callaghan also had an interesting perspective on the subject.

"I look around dressing rooms I've been in and dressing rooms even at the moment and you have painkillers being taken before games and for me that one that kills me is it's easy to take a painkiller, it's a pain in the ass to go out and to make sure that you don't have that. So you need to do more pre-hab and rehabbing in your week than just taking a tablet," he said.

"You're actually at a shortcoming within yourself, that you're just trying to put a band aid over it by taking something. I look around our dressing room and we've young Jamie Shillcock, a 19-year-old incredible talent at full-back and I see him looking around our dressing room before a game at guys guzzling down painkillers or taking anti-inflammatories. I've been around squads that guys have taken sleeping tablets because they've taken so much caffeine during the day [that] they need to get to sleep. And you're wondering is this proper care of medicine?"  

He feels the rugby community need to be mindful of it and also says that "you've guys taking painkillers that don't look after their bodies".

He added that he doesn't like a young player seeing that and thinking that it's normal.

Donncha O’Callaghan and Eoin Reddan were on hand to launch the Vodafone #TeamOfUs Shirt Swap in Dublin City Centre today. From Saturday, 15th October Vodafone customers can swap their old Irish rugby jerseys to get 50% off the brand new Ireland home jersey by simply dropping off their old jersey at any Vodafone store nationwide. Numbers are limited, so fans are encouraged to act fast to avoid disappointment.


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