Friday 18 August 2017

Nash eager to use U-20s World Cup as springboard into pro game

Calvin Nash. Photo: Matt Browne/Sportsfile
Calvin Nash. Photo: Matt Browne/Sportsfile
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

Calvin Nash has achieved a lot this season but before he can reflect on his progress with both club and country, there is the small matter of the U-20 World Cup, which begins in Georgia on Wednesday.

The Limerick native has spent the year training with Munster and he impressed Rassie Erasmus enough to earn his professional debut when he started the Guinness PRO12 game in Edinburgh in February.

All of this happened at a time when he was making similar inroads with the Ireland U-20s, and three weeks after his Munster debut, he was handed the international captaincy for the Six Nations game against France in Donnybrook.

Unfortunately, that honour only lasted four minutes as a head injury cruelly curtailed what was the biggest honour of his fledgling career.

"The captaincy was one of the best honours I have ever had," Nash reflects, days out from Ireland's World Cup opener against Italy.

"It was brilliant but I was very disappointed that I barely started the match.

"I have been working hard to get my body right because I don't want what happened in the Six Nations to be repeated in this Championship."

Back in Munster, the opportunity to train every day with the senior team has been a huge benefit.

As Peter O'Mahony rightly put it after the win over the Ospreys last weekend, Munster's back three has been their "best department over the last 12 months".

Nash's development has been accelerated by learning from the likes of Simon Zebo, Keith Earls and Andrew Conway, and the speedy winger, who can also play in midfield, explained how the latter pair have been a hugely positive influence.

"Andrew Conway has definitely helped me," the former Crescent Comp student said.

"Before my debut he was helping me with the defensive side of things because I was a bit unsure on a few things.

"He put it to bed and then I was so comfortable making my debut.

"Not even just training with Keith Earls but watching him, he's outstanding. He's so good in training. He's brilliant to watch and those two lads have really helped me."

Nash showed glimpses of his devastating speed throughout the injury-hit Six Nations, not least when he scored a stunning try in Wales (check it out online).

In Munster, there is genuine excitement about what the 19-year old is capable of and he has lofty ambitions of his own, particularly after watching Jacob Stockdale, who is a similar type of player, earn a call-up to the full Ireland squad for next month's tour of USA and Japan, shortly after he completed his time with the U-20s.

"It has definitely turned into this platform that we can jump into the pro side of things," Nash said.

"Robbie Henshaw came into us in the Sandymount Hotel earlier in the year and told us that he made his senior Ireland debut after his 20s campaign, and that it was the same time as the Lions.

"You could see everyone's face was like 'Wow, I didn't know that was possible'. But the three lads (Stockdale, James Ryan and Andrew Porter) getting called up shows that it was possible.

"It's not that far away and everyone is trying to impress to jump up into the pro game."

Irish Independent

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