Monday 20 November 2017

Blade is keeping his kicking game sharp

Caolin Blade. Picture: Sportsfile
Caolin Blade. Picture: Sportsfile

Declan Rooney

Connacht scrum-half Caolin Blade says he is willing to fill in as a place-kicker at any stage if he is required.

Blade played with the No 10 on his back during his school days at Athenry Vocational School and with his club Monivea before making the move to scrum-half around the time he joined the Connacht academy.

Recently Munster's Conor Murray landed a crucial penalty for Ireland in their win against New Zealand after Johnny Sexton picked up a knock. Blade says he could do a similar job if required.

He showed admirable skills off the tee as a youngster and he says it is a skill that he continues to practice to this day, and is willing to step forward if he's needed in an emergency.

"When I was younger I played out-half, but I moved in to scrum-half when I was 19," said the 22-year-old Galway native.

"I have a lot of things that I work on with my game and being a place-kicker is an extra tool to have. I do practice it myself a lot of the time. I wouldn't back away from it.

"If the coaches have confidence in me and I had confidence in myself I'd step up. But I think the lads that are there at the moment are doing a good job, so we don't need to change anything there."

With Kieran Marmion away with Ireland of late, Blade already has seven Pro12 appearances to his name, although the return of John Cooney from the shoulder injury he sustained in the Pro12 final will be extra competition for him.

"It is definitely a big factor, but competition is the best thing for us," he says. "There is so much competition you are always working hard and you always have to improve.

"When you get your chance you have to take it. When there is so much depth it makes us better - and you need that on your team, especially for a 9."

Irish Independent

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