The Bros Pearse’s man keeping England’s rugby stars fighting fit

Brothers Pearses Dave OSullivan keeping Englands rugby stars fighting fit
Dave O’Sullivan treats England’s Sam Burgess during the 2017 Rugby League World Cup match between the Australian Kangaroos and England at AAMI Park on October 27, 2017 in Melbourne. Photo: Quinn (Rooney/Getty Images)

By Damian Dolan

Dave O’Sullivan admits there was a time when he “didn’t have a clue” about Rugby League.

Over the years, however, the Brothers Pearse Gaelic footballer and England Rugby League team’s physio has learnt to appreciate its intricacies, as well as its sheer physicality.

“I can appreciate the good tackles and the technique a bit more now, but there’s still times I don’t know what’s going on,” O’Sullivan confessed to the Irish World.

“The guys are very fit and they’re very fast. They’re tough.

“There’s nowhere to hide in Rugby League. You can get away with a player carrying a knock in Rugby Union – you can’t in Rugby League. It’s high intensity and you’ll get found out.”

Head physiotherapist since 2017, O’Sullivan marries his England commitments with running his own clinic in Huddersfield, ProSport Physiotherapy, which includes mentoring other physios online.

He also acts as a consultant to club side Huddersfield Giants, as well as giving his professional expertise to both Warrington Wolves and Hull FC, a few times a month. He’s also brought out a book, The ‘Go-To’ Physio.

Idle Dave O’Sullivan certainly is not.

Later this year, he’ll be part of the Great Britain and Irish Lions tour of the southern hemisphere. They’ll play Test matches against New Zealand, Tonga, Samoa, Fiji and Papua New Guinea.

It will be the first time the Lions have played a Test match since 2007, and the first time the team has toured since 1996.

“I always wanted to be involved in sport – I like the team aspect of it,” said O’Sullivan.

From Cork, O’Sullivan moved to Huddersfield in 2005 to study physiotherapy at the University of Huddersfield – the year the club won the last of its 17 senior Yorkshire titles.

 

O’Sullivan trained with the club that year, but wasn’t eligible to play.

A friend had applied to do physiotherapy at Huddersfield the previous year, and had talked favourably about Brothers Pearse and the Huddersfield Irish Centre. But for him, O’Sullivan might have ended up in Newcastle.

“I arrived in Huddersfield on the Thursday. We went for a drink at the Irish Centre on Friday, and by Saturday I was working behind the bar,” he recalled.

In 2006, O’Sullivan helped Pearse’s to junior league success – the last trophy won by the club before last year’s Pennine League triumph.

His association with rugby league began at university, with placements at Leeds Rhinos and Bradford Blues. Once qualified, he was offered a job by the Rhinos.

 

After three years, he moved back to Ireland to work for Munster.

It was in his second year at university, that he’d met his future wife, Georgina, who comes from Huddersfield. Georgina gave birth to their first child, Ava, in 2010.

He returned to Huddersfield in 2012 when he was offered the head physiotherapist job at Huddersfield Giants. A position he occupied for three years.

“When our second daughter, Ruby, was born in 2015 it was hard working weekends with two young kids, so it’s nice now that I can do it part-time now and get my fix of being involved,” said O’Sullivan.

O’Sullivan had started up ProSport Physiotherapy in 2009, but by his own admission “didn’t really commit to it” until 2012.

Brothers Pearses Dave OSullivan keeping Englands rugby stars fighting fit
Dave O’Sullivan (back row, fourth from left) in the Pearse’s team that enjoyed Pennine League Div 3 success in 2018

Perhaps not surprisingly, there’s a “strong” Brothers Pearse influence. Teammate Shane Mooney from Waterford has been involved since 2012, while Maria Keane (Galway) joined the practice last year.

This year, Maria will be part of the revival of the Brothers Pearse ladies team.

“We’ve grown the clinic together; Shane’s been a big part of it,” says O’Sullivan, who has great affection for the club.

“It definitely made me feel at home and helped me to settle in. The biggest thing I noticed was how welcoming everyone at Brother Pearse and the Irish Centre was.

“It’s a very close-knit community and they go out of their way to help you,” he said.


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