Sunday 22 October 2017

Tuohy needs lucky break to win place on Argentina tour

Dan Tuohy, Ulster
Dan Tuohy, Ulster
David Kelly

David Kelly

When the Irish Independent visited Dan Tuohy in January, the sky-scraping second-row was contemplating a pair of unlikely objectives.

He could control only one of them; now that Liverpool's title assault has seemingly hit the buffers, his mind switches again to the only aim that he can still possibly command.

Back then, Tuohy outlined his frustration at not being in Joe Schmidt's Ireland plans; his pleas weren't merely plaintive.

They held the substance of form and presence in a then imperious Ulster side. Schmidt recognised Tuohy's attention to detail and work-rate, rewarding him with a start against Scotland as Paul O'Connell fell victim to 'flu.

Tuohy didn't disappoint; even though he was replaced by his captain a week later against Wales, Schmidt was confident enough to withdraw the wheezing Munster totem prematurely.

Sadly, Tuohy's game also ended before it should have – smashing a ruck with ferocity, the Ulster man also smashed his right forearm. End of campaign.

He returned in late March for the province's shock defeat in Cardiff, but broke a bone in his hand. However, he played in the infamous Heineken Cup defeat to Saracens, before undergoing his second surgery of the year.

Suffice to say, retaining all his bones in the correct position is foremost on his mind – he knows he can't sing his praises to the national coach as confidently as he did.

With a maturity that he may have lacked in former years, the 28-year-old, whose Ireland qualifications are hewn from grandfather, Michael, who hailed from Cashel, Co Tipperary, is prepared to look beyond Argentina if Schmidt decides to look elsewhere.

"It seems to be one thing after another with injuries, but, hopefully, that is the end of it and I can force my way into the Ireland set-up for the Argentina tour," he declares.

"The timing of my injuries has been horrendous. To miss out on the Six Nations was tough to take. I was delighted for the lads, but knowing I could have been in Paris was tough and it did play on my mind a little bit.

"I was thinking, first a broken arm, then the red card for Ulster against Saracens, you know, when is this luck going to end?

"I think I'll get another chance with Ireland in the future. I've whinged enough to Joe in the past, but I can't whinge this time if he doesn't pick me.

"I have got to leave him in no doubt that I'm fit to go to Argentina. If that happens, hopefully, that will bode well for the start of the season.

"We all know what's round the corner with the World Cup being 16 or 17 months away. I'll be 30 when it comes around, so if it doesn't happen for me then, I doubt if it ever will.

"So, it's now a really big two years for me in my career."

Securing his provincial berth will be a start.

DESPERATE

"I'm desperate to get out there and prove to Mark Anscombe that I can do a job," he insists. "I'm desperate for selection for the semi-final because Iain Henderson isn't playing much at six at the moment.

"Johann Muller is club captain, so myself and Hendy we're in direct competition for a place in the semi. It's up to me to do the business this weekend."

And, as World Cup champions like Muller and John Afoa begin packing their bags, Tuohy is still hopeful that they can squeeze a winners' medal into their luggage.

"We don't talk about not knowing how to win big games," insists Tuohy. "We have winners in the squad.

"It would be a shame for this cycle of departing players like Johann, John and Tom (Court) not to win something, because it could be a long time before you have that quality of player again.

"Cup rugby is all about on the day and I really can't put my finger on why we haven't won, the preparation is as good as ever. It's taking that next step."

Liverpool faltered in their final stride; Ulster hope not to follow.

Irish Independent

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