Persistence and extra bulk paying off for Kilcoyne
There were times over the last couple of years when Dave Kilcoyne wondered what direction his Ireland career was going.
Stuck behind two Lions props, Jack McGrath and Cian Healy, the outlook didn't look all that bright but he had to find a way to stay positive.
Healy's return to form has inadvertently reopened the door for Kilcoyne and now that he has forced his way back in, he is determined to remain involved.
Joe Schmidt evidently sees Kilcoyne as more of an impact player than McGrath and consequently, the Leinster loosehead has surprisingly been left out in the cold.
"There was a couple of years there where I was trying to batter down the door and in fairness to Joe and Feeky (Greg Feek) and Faz (Andy Farrell) and the rest of the management, they have constantly been giving me feedback and giving me things to work on," Kilcoyne said.
"They have rewarded my form and hopefully I can bring that on to the Six Nations.
"I thought my form was quite strong with Munster coming in to this. Again, on the back of some good team performances.
"I had been knocking on the door for a while and, all credit to the coaches, they put a lot of faith in me and I'm here to deliver when called upon."
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The front-row union in Carton House have seemingly started their own version of weight-watchers recently.
Earlier this month, Healy revealed that he had lost 10kg, which is what he points to as the main reason for discovering his best form.
Kilcoyne, meanwhile, has gone the opposite way and added 5kg to his bulk and is now the heaviest he has ever been.
It's a fine balancing act as Healy explained so well but Kilcoyne felt that he had to add weight if he was to force his way back into Schmidt's plans.
"I've put on a bit of weight after the tour," the Limerick native continued. "It was an area that I thought I could manage and would be more beneficial to me. It has definitely stood to me.
"Felix (Jones) and some of the coaches down below introduced some other subtleties to my game and I had a good chat with Joe and Simon (Easterby) at the end of the Japan tour.
"Simon gave me a few tips, things I could be working on over the summer and that I could be bringing in to my game and the management have been really receptive towards that.
"I just had a good chat with Jerry (Flannery) a number of years back about what was the right weight for me and I just looked back at when I was playing my best rugby.
"I just picked the weight that I felt most comfortable with and I got back to that and it has really been suiting me.
"We have a good nutritionist down below and up here and they sit down to do plans with you so you can get up to your target weight. Everyone is different.
"Cian wanted to trim down a bit, I wanted to bulk up. You just find a happy medium and what suits you best. Cian is playing really well and there is a lot of competition in Ireland at the moment, in every position.
"It's a great headache for the coaches to have and it definitely brings the best out of myself, Jack and Cian and even James (Cronin) down below."
Kilcoyne now returns to Munster under a new coach and the challenge he faces is to maintain his form.
It's difficult to imagine McGrath being exiled for the Six Nations but if Schmidt was to pick his team tomorrow, it seems likely that Kilcoyne would be on the bench, even if the scrum wasn't as rock solid in the latter stages on Saturday.
Having played in both of the 'big' games against South Africa and Argentina this month, the 28-year-old's persistence paid off but it must not stop now.
"Everyone wants to be number one and that's the way it is," he added.
"We have a huge task at hand with Munster now and when we get back we have Zebre and Ospreys coming up and then Leicester back-to-back, so the games don't get any easier.
"We will get back and be fully focused now with Johann (van Graan) taking over down below.
"I have been in contact with some of the management and the players down there and there seems to be a bit of a positive vibe. Hopefully we can kick on and do well in Europe.
"It was massive, just getting into that system and getting game time under your belt.
"Showing the coaches what you are about and what you can bring to the table. They rewarded me this November."