Cian Healy is as determined as ever to keep pushing Andrew Porter for a starting Ireland spot as the veteran loosehead says the fire within him still burns bright.
The Clontarf native has started 84 of his 112 matches, but found himself limited to three bench appearances this month as his Leinster rival shifted position and took over the No 1 slot.
At the age of 34, Healy says he is not about to give up the fight after his try-scoring performance against Argentina on Sunday.
“Oh yeah, 100 per cent,” he said. “At the end of the day you are representing your country, and it doesn’t matter what number it is, if you get an opportunity to get on the field you have to be doing your best and push the lads on and put pressure on ‘Killer’ (Dave Kilcoyne) and ‘Ports’ to try and get that position myself.
“And that’s going to bring them up as well, and we have to do each other justice.
“If you were to just lax off and not push people for that No 1 spot, then you’re probably not going to end up in camp. That’s the realistic part of it.
“So you have to push standards, and my desire to push those standards is the same as ever, and I’m loving every minute of what I do. I’m not going anywhere.”
After Sunday’s game, Peter O’Mahony said this has been the most enjoyable camp of his Ireland career and Healy concurs with his long-time colleague.
“It was brilliant, and everyone was pushing each other,” he said.
“We’ve had it before in camps, everyone drives standards and sometimes you don’t see the results of the pressure on each other.
“But to get some good results in this series has certainly made that feel better.
“We all have such a great time in camp together. We have all the Covid measures which limit some things we do, but we’ve found ways to do things safely and still have craic and still make it feel like a regular camp, so it’s been good.
“It’s the style of rugby and everyone being on the right page, it’s the standards that everyone has to uphold to be able to play that.
“I don’t know if you can call it a winning brand of rugby because many brands can win rugby, but there’s certainly a bit of flow to it that we’re enjoying in training.
“And if you know there is someone behind you who can take an offload or you know when the right time is to go to ground and you have two lads in to clear you out pretty quick, it’s a good feel about each other and where we are and that understanding around the field.”
The average age of Ireland’s finishing team on Sunday was 24 and the prop is enjoying the youthful look to the squad.
“It’s deadly. I think it’s so important to environments to see people coming through and see people getting opportunities,” he said.
“That’s the way it should be when the lads are coming through. If you’re good enough, you’re old enough, and they’ve certainly shown that.”