Reddan buoyed by battle for World Cup places in Irish camp
EOIN Reddan has already noticed a big difference between this year's World Cup preparations and those of four years ago.
The Leinster scrum-half joined his team-mates at Carton House last week for an intensive first week of pre-season training ahead of the September tournament in New Zealand. And he says there has been a noticeable change in emphasis from the Eddie O'Sullivan regime, when the first-choice XV were wrapped in cotton wool and the rest of the squad were competing for places on the bench.
Although much of the last week was based in the weights room, Reddan says the competition is far more open.
"Four years ago 15 guys didn't go on tour to Argentina and when we turned up for pre-season training they had been off on their own doing their own thing," he said.
"The rest of us were in our other group and that's obviously not the case this time. It's all to play for in every position and every spot.
"We've a new coach who is definitely weighing up his options, which is great, I think, because you get competition throughout the team. Everyone is trying to get on the team, no one is worried about getting injured.
"If you think that you're on the team and just staying injury free then you might have a different mentality, but that's not the case this year. Everyone's up for it."
The Limerick native is competing with four other scrum-halves for a place on the plane to New Zealand and, ultimately, a starting spot.
Conor Murray has joined Reddan, Isaac Boss, Tomas O'Leary and Peter Stringer in the race for the No 9 jersey and although the Leinster man was first choice at the end of the Six Nations, he isn't taking his spot for granted.
"It's good competition," he said. "Everyone is working hard to be number one. It's healthy. Hopefully we'll all raise our game.
"You don't get to play badly in some positions and I think scrum-half is one of them. Once that happens you're under pressure immediately. That's the way it should be and that's due to the guys who aren't playing."