Saturday 19 August 2017

Gibson-Park fired up by scrum-half battle

Jamison Gibson-Park. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Jamison Gibson-Park. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

Jamison Gibson-Park is no stranger to battling for the first-choice scrum-half spot and he will be all the better for his experience with the Hurricanes last season when he wrestled with TJ Perenara for the No 9 shirt.

So far this season, Luke McGrath has been Leinster's preferred choice but Gibson-Park has shown glimpses of his quality as he looks to keep the pressure on the former St Michael's student.

McGrath was capped by Ireland for the first time in November and has enjoyed a fine season but in recent weeks, Gibson-Park has noticeably stepped up his game.

The 24-year-old is feeling very much at home in Dublin and that is beginning to show in his performances.

"I think we've complemented each other pretty well so far. I look forward to working with Lukey for the rest of the season," Gibson-Park said.

"Having us both here, we challenge each other on a lot of things. We've got Nick McCarthy and Charlie Rock here as well. We keep each other pretty honest and put a lot of pressure on each other in training."

Having made the move from New Zealand with his girlfriend and child, Gibson-Park admitted that he has slotted in seamlessly to the Irish way of life. "Yeah, certainly a lot more settled and feeling a bit more at home," he said. "My girlfriend and the little one have settled in pretty well so that's probably the main thing from my point of view - keeping them happy.

"It was probably just tough for them initially being away from home.

"Especially with the little one, you get a lot of help from parents (back home) so that was probably the toughest thing. They've adjusted pretty well and made a few friends who she spends a bit of time with. It keeps her busy.

"The duration (of the season) is probably the biggest thing for me. I'd be used to six or seven months whereas this may go on for a little longer. I haven't really stopped to get much of a break so that's probably going to be the toughest thing - to push on right through the year."

Front-liners

While Leinster will continue to be without the majority of their front-liners during the Six Nations period, Gibson-Park is adamant that it drives the standards of the rest of the squad to want to reach that same level.

"There is no doubt that it is strange losing so many guys," he added.

"At the end of the day, that's why we're all here.

"We want to get as many guys as possible to that next level. It's just part and a parcel of this competition. It's a good test of our squad depth."

Irish Independent

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