“In team sport, you want the person next to you to look good”

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When Conor Oliver and I connect via Zoom, I realize my screen is upside down – and I can’t seem to fix it.

“I’ll try to keep a straight face,” he said, stifling a laugh. Two years into a pandemic, and I’m starting to lose patience with video calls, I admit, adding that it will be nice to get back to the office soon as I haven’t yet met the colleagues I work with since the summer of 2020.

The Dubliner, who transferred from Munster to Connacht rugby team in July 2020, knows all about the challenges of joining a team in the midst of a pandemic.

“It was hard at first,” he admits.

“I moved to Galway and was living on my own, and couldn’t really meet the guys outside of training.” But there was a silver lining – the team was divided into six to eight “bubbles” for practice in those early days.

“I ended up getting really close to those guys,” he says. “And then it was extended to 12 people.

“It worked on its own in the end because it was much easier to get to know people in a step-by-step fashion than having to get to know 40 people at once.”

And what about the support in Connacht – how does it compare to Thomond Park?

“It’s crazy. I remember playing at Galway Sportsgrounds when I was playing against Connacht with Munster. One thing that always stuck in my mind was how loud the crowd was.

“I love that.”

Connacht’s Conor Oliver applauds the full-time fans
  • Connacht Rugby player Conor Oliver encourages runners of all abilities to sign up for Red Bull’s Wings for Life World Run by downloading the app or visiting WingsForLifeWorldRun.com

What does your morning routine look like?

I try to get up at half past six or seven and walk my dog ​​Mac for half an hour before heading out for the day. He’s a bulldog and a bit heavy…so we won’t get very far. When I get back I’ll feed him and get some oats myself for the night, then head to practice. We have one hour individual prep – a lot of guys have injuries so they would have different stretches and things to do. We have a team meeting at 9 a.m. and then we start the day.

What are your healthiest eating habits?

Be organized. I do the weekly shopping on a Sunday or Monday and collect everything I have for the week. I don’t necessarily cook meals, but I try to have the food in the fridge for the whole week and I don’t like to waste food, which encourages me to continue cooking for myself.

What are your most guilty pleasures?

Really sour jellies are my weak point. I am particularly vulnerable on weekends.

What would keep you up at night?

The mistakes I made and thinking about what happens next.

How do you relax?

Conor Oliver with his beloved dog Photo: @conoroliver/Instagram
Conor Oliver with his beloved dog Photo: @conoroliver/Instagram

Walking my dog ​​without a helmet. I used to always walk with headphones, listen to music or other things. I think it’s good to disconnect sometimes. I live by the sea now in Galway. It’s nice to go down to the beach and have some quiet time.

Who are your sports heroes?

Steven Gerard. I grew up in a very footballing family and my brother is a huge Liverpool fan. Gérard has always marked me. The way he used to play the game, wear his heart on his sleeve… you could really see the passion he had and when he played how much it meant to him. In rugby, it’s Richie McCaw, the captain of the All Blacks. I hold these guys in high regard. It’s hard to play [soccer and rugby]but it’s even harder to lead world-class teams.

What’s the best health advice you’ve ever been given?

You only have one body, so take care of it as best you can.

What are your least favorite traits in others?

Selfishness. I think it’s one of those things that can really drag a band down. A team environment should be built on teamwork and people looking out for each other. You want the person next to you to look good, and if everyone else does, you’ve come full circle.

What would brighten your day?

My dog. If I have a bad day at practice, when I walk through the door, he’s always happy to see me.

Which quote inspires you the most and why?

‘You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.’

What is your favorite place in the world?

Vietnam. I went there about three years ago, backpacking, staying in hostels with a few of my friends. This part of the world is simply amazing. Many people there may not have many, but they are happy. It puts life into perspective. It was a really eye-opening time for me, I came back humbled.

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