Gareth O'Brien gunning for semi final spot

O'Brien gunning for semi final spot

O'Brien gunning for semi final spot

First published in Sport by , Sports reporter

GARETH O’Brien is hoping to boost his chances of playing in a first Challenge Cup semi final by impressing at Catalan Dragons tomorrow.

The 22-year-old has played 15 times for Wolves this season but has only recently regained his stand-off spot.

O’Brien would love to keep his shirt for the semi final with Leeds Rhinos, but knows he must be at his best this weekend.

“That’s me every week,” he said. “I’m trying to impress and keep my shirt.

“We’ve got a team full of internationals so once you’ve got your shirt it’s very hard to keep it and it’s down to the individual.

“I’ve not been involved in the last three years or so where we’ve had success so I’ll be itching to keep my shirt and play in that massive game.”

Richie Myler, Stefan Ratchford and Chris Bridge are his half-back rivals, but O’Brien believes they provide healthy competition.

“It’s what the team needs to keep each other on their toes,” said the former St Helens loanee.

“To have competition in each position is a good thing as people can get complacent and think ‘it doesn’t matter how I play I’m going to keep my place next week’.

“That’s not what we’ve got here. It keeps everyone playing well.”

The Warrington-born half back is also confident he can give Tony Smith a different option.

“We bounce off each other,” he added. “We’ve all got our own unique style of play in how we complement each other.

“We’re close mates on and off the field, we link up well and it doesn’t matter who’s in that position.”

Despite witnessing losses to Widnes and Wakefield, O’Brien can boast a role in a majority of Wolves’ tries in recent weeks.

“I’m pretty happy with the last couple of weeks,” he said. “Not the team performance, but we’re looking to turn that around against Catalan.

“Personally I just want to keep playing as much as I can, keep learning, keep developing and keep improving.

“We aren’t where we want to be as league position goes but we’ve got our minds set on goals at the end of the year.

“That’s the Grand Final, where we’ve come up short the last couple of years, and we’ve had a good Challenge Cup run this year that we don’t want to end.

“Those main trophies are within our grasp and it’s down to us as a team to push on to win those competitions.”

First he is focused on a trip to Catalan, and will not be making any excuses come Friday.

“There is a bit of travel but it can become an excuse to some teams, the long journey, not sleeping in your own bed, stuff like that,” said O’Brien.

“We’re professionals, we’ve got to overcome that and treat it as any other game. Once we’ve played this game, then it’s on to the semi final.

“It’s a massive test heading into the following week. It’ll be a real tough game so will stand us in good stead.”

Wolves fans making the trip can expect free buses in Perpignan on game day, with Stade Gilbert Brutus’ gates opening at 7pm.

On Thursday night the Les Jeudis de Perpignan festival takes place, with music and street theatre for adults and kids.

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