Tuesday 15 October 2019

This is the hungriest I've ever been in my career, insists Kilcoyne

Time to shine: Dave Kilcoyne is in line to make his first start of the month against the US on Saturday. Photo: Sportsfile
Time to shine: Dave Kilcoyne is in line to make his first start of the month against the US on Saturday. Photo: Sportsfile
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

After the Ireland squad departed Carton House for their city centre base last Thursday, Dave Kilcoyne made the lonely trek back down the M7.

Joe Schmidt delayed the naming of the team to play the All Blacks until late in the week but deep down, Kilcoyne knew it was going to take an injury for him to force his way into the reckoning.

Not that he didn't put his all into a training week that by all counts was as full on as it comes.

Kilcoyne watched the epic win at home in Limerick surrounded by his family. It wasn't quite the same as running out at the Aviva but Kilcoyne was satisfied that he couldn't have done much more to force Schmidt's hand.

"You're in the wrong game if you're not envious watching that game," Kilcoyne admits.

"I was dying to be out there. I would have given anything but you realise your role and for that week it was about preparing the team as best as I could.


"I thought we did that right throughout the week. We had a tough scrum week. (There was) A real tough intensity at training."

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This week is a very different role for Kilcoyne, who is in line to make his first start of the month. With Cian Healy set to be rested and Jack McGrath returning to Leinster, there is an opening at loosehead for the Munster prop.

The 29-year-old has enjoyed a fine season with Munster and as he enters the prime of his career, he brought that form to Chicago when he made a huge impact off the bench against Italy at the start of November.

"This is the hungriest I've ever been in my career," Kilcoyne insists. "Part of a winning team that's beaten the All Blacks - you're up there with the best teams in the world, if you're playing in that team so that just drives the hunger.

"It's about coming in here and switching to the Irish detail. In this environment you have to have your detail nailed on because if it's not then you won't last too long."

Like Healy, Kilcoyne has battled with his weight over the last year as he looks to find the optimum size that will firstly allow him to scrummage to a high level and also allowing him to carry explosively around the pitch.

"Yeah, the main thing I look at in my game is scrummaging, if I carry or tackle that's a bonus" the former Ardscoil Rís student maintains.

"I just felt on a Sunday after a game on Saturday, the way the game is gone, props might on play 50 or 60 minutes. I felt that Sunday might be an opportunity to go in and do a weight session.

"To go in and get an early lift in the week. That's an extra session done before the week even starts. I'd generally lift on my day off as well so that's two weight sessions added on to your weekly schedule.

"I just saw a window there that I can maximise. I have my own beliefs about over-training. I believe you can either under-recover or under-eat but I don't believe you can over-train. I know some S&Cs and others will disagree but that is my own belief."

Given that he turns 30 next month, Kilcoyne has a good understanding of what works best for his body.

He knows that with two Lions props ahead of him in the pecking order, opportunities to stake his claim from the start in a green jersey are limited.

"If you look at how combative our scrum sessions in here are, they're probably the toughest scrums you'll get," he adds. "They're really competitive sessions and everyone is fighting to be disciplined and really have a go at each other.

"The days of throwing digs in training is a little bit gone, but it's your bread and butter, everyone wants to deliver on that.

"They're extremely competitive sessions, and that filters through to the game. I have no doubt that it will be the exact same this weekend."

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