Sunday 23 July 2017

Scannell aiming to secure Ireland honours in Japan

'As Niall was earning caps in the spring, Rory was in camp learning from the regulars and seeking feedback from Joe Schmidt.' Photo: Sportsfile
'As Niall was earning caps in the spring, Rory was in camp learning from the regulars and seeking feedback from Joe Schmidt.' Photo: Sportsfile
Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

He has watched his older brother take to the international stage without a hitch and while he isn't shouting it from the rooftops, Rory Scannell is ready to take the next step in his career.

The Munster centre's immediate focus is on the Ospreys and the Guinness PRO12 semi-final on Saturday, but the three-match summer tour against America and Japan is fast approaching and his form and the absence of New Zealand-bound Robbie Henshaw should open the door.

As Niall was earning caps in the spring, Rory was in camp learning from the regulars and seeking feedback from Joe Schmidt. He was the 24th man for the win over Australia and, while he enjoyed the experience and will put it to good use at the business end of the season, the next step is getting his hands on a green jersey.

The coach is due to name his squad tomorrow and both Scannells can expect to be included.

"I got a bit of experience in Six Nations camps and when you get in there you realise you are very close and that that's where you want to be," Rory said.

"Hopefully with lads away with the Lions it might open up an opportunity for me and we might both go. Yeah, that's what I would be targeting.

"It's a step up from the club, but when you are there you realise that you are not that far off and you learn a lot up there.

"When you are that close you get a bit more confident in yourself as well, so hopefully I am close now.

"When you are there warming up for those games you think, 'gee, yeah, I really want to play now'. So being in there for the Six Nations I was quite close to a few match-day squads with Johnny (Sexton) being out injured. When you are there you are champing at the bit. Hopefully the summer will offer an opportunity."

The feedback from Schmidt has been straightforward.

"He just said that the guys who have played in midfield for him in the last few years have performed for him when they've been given the chance, so it's up to me when I play with Munster to keep putting my hand up," he said.

"When that opportunity arises I have to take it. He just said to keep doing what I am doing. As a No 12 I am a bit different of a player to Robbie. He is very physical and I am a bit more of a distributor and kicker, so it's good to have that as a midfielder."

Before the tour, the centre is keen that the province learn from their Champions Cup semi-final defeat to Scaracens and put the lesson to good use against the Ospreys.

"It's been a good season as a squad, but we were very disappointed with the Saracens game," he said.

"We didn't show up on the day so hopefully we won't lose two. We reviewed it quite a bit. We know what we did wrong and why we didn't come close to beating them.

"It's just about building on that. In games against the top teams in Europe you get three or four chances to put away a try and we didn't put them away.

"Saracens were clinical. When they got the chances to score they took them and that's the difference. We'll try to back ourselves in the PRO12 semi.

"We were a bit conservative in our attack. When we got those chances in their '22' we didn't take them and that's the main thing we really learned from that game."

Irish Independent

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