Nash eager to continue his progress with Ireland U-20s
Published 31/01/2017 | 02:30
It's only two years ago that Munster had just four players in the Ireland U-20s Six Nations squad, and in the same season that the province failed to make the knockout stages of Europe for only the second time in 17 years, questions were being asked from the top down.
Munster's fortunes have been changing on the underage front as last year their representation in the U-20s Six Nations squad had risen to eight, and this season it has increased again to 10 with the fit-again Bill Johnston soon to make it 11.
Having just four players in the 2015 Six Nations hurt the province but as Nigel Carolan put it, these things tend to work in "cycles".
One of the most exciting prospects coming through in Munster is Calvin Nash. The 19-year old was recently added to the province's Champions Cup squad and isn't too far away from a first senior appearance.
Nash travelled to Galway with the squad as 24th man for their Pro12 meeting with Connacht over Christmas and has been training regularly under Rassie Erasmus' watch.
The centre who can also play on the wing is hoping to nail down a starting spot in Friday night's Six Nations opener in Scotland but he knows that he faces stiff competition in a backline littered with quality.
The mood has changed in Munster and that has been felt by Nash, who is pushing hard to get involved in the success of the senior team.
"Everyone is hitting off each other and pushing each other more," Nash said. "Since they got on that winning run, training has gone through the roof. Every week it's a different game-plan and everyone buys into it. The system is working really well.
"Clubs and schools rugby has gotten way more competitive."
Nash's Six Nations hopes were almost dashed when he suffered a neck injury while playing for Munster A two weeks ago but he has worked tirelessly to make sure he was selected by Carolan.
"Oh God, straight away in my head was that the U-20s Six Nations was out the window," the Limerick native recalled.
"I couldn't move my head. I was so nervous. The joint in my neck inflamed so it stopped the mobility. I couldn't move my head for the first few days.
"Then when we started to work on it, it was okay. It was very scary, especially being my neck."
What's coming down the line in the Six Nations will be a step up from anything Nash has experienced in his fledging career, but he is out to prove that he is one of the leading lights of Munster's next crop.