Sunday 17 December 2017

Kilcoyne desperate to make No 1 slot his own for Munster and Ireland

Conor George

Conor George

DAVE KILCOYNE has set himself a goal – to become the best and first-choice loosehead prop with Munster and Ireland.

He's already well on his way to achieving that with Munster. He took full advantage of injury to incumbent Wian du Preez in the lead-up to the start of the Heineken Cup and laid claim to a jersey he will hold onto this weekend.

He has also added 'Ireland international player' to his CV after coming off the bench during the Tests against South Africa and Argentina – he started against Fiji, but that was a non-cap game.

The appetite hasn't been sated, though.

"My ambition, like anyone starting out, is to be No 1 for my country and for Munster," said Kilcoyne. "That's the mindset I brought into my pre-season – but if that's not your ambition then maybe you're in the wrong game."

It is an astonishing fact that Kilcoyne (pictured) only made his senior Munster debut less than a year ago, when he came off the bench against Connacht on December 26. His first start for the side came against Scarlets on April 21 this year.

His rise to prominence is a direct result of the scrummaging culture that Munster have been developing in the south.


Kilcoyne is, if the word from Munster is to be believed, just the first of a new crop challenging for recognition behind the front-line players.

That BJ Botha, Du Preez and even his cousin Marcus Horan – "there's a connection there back to our grandmothers" – have been so generous in helping the younger generation benefit from their experiences has, according to Kilcoyne, been an invaluable asset.

"BJ played in a World Cup for South Africa, Marcus did the same for Ireland and Wian has also been capped by South Africa. On top of that, Paul McCarthy, scrum coach with Munster, has been a terrific teacher and with Ireland Greg Feek was also a font of knowledge," he said.

"It's great to be able to learn from these guys. It's a real plus that they are so willing to help younger players like me progress."

Kilcoyne's elevated status counts for nothing now that he's back in camp with Munster. No matter what experience or accolades you have, everyone is treated the same.

"Once you're back in squad, what you've done on international duty is forgotten about. Under Rob (Penney) there is a huge emphasis placed on having a bit of craic and it was straight back into that environment this week," he said.

"Already, the last four weeks have been forgotten too, and it's all about getting a win against Glasgow on Saturday, especially after losing last weekend to Llanelli."

There is no hint that Kilcoyne will be resting on his laurels after his hugely exciting November. He's straight back into the team for this weekend's trip and knows that he has to perform to keep his competitors at bay.

"I edged Marcus towards the end of last season for the spot on the bench and this year I've edged Wian for a couple of games. But the margins are so close that you have to take all opportunities that come your way.

"After the month with Ireland I am absolutely hungry for more. But first I am dying to start this weekend, I want to keep playing games and contribute as much to Munster as I can," he added.

Irish Independent

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