Thursday 27 June 2019

Copeland: I'd back myself, but I'm not on Joe's radar

Robin Copeland, Photo: Sportsfile
Robin Copeland, Photo: Sportsfile

Rúaidhrí O'Connor

He will be one of the four starting No 8s in the country this season, but Connacht's new signing Robin Copeland is not expecting a return to the Ireland set-up.

Having moved from Munster this summer, the Wexford native is confident he can put a stop-start couple of seasons behind him and return to the kind of form that saw him star for Cardiff Blues in 2014.

His move back to the Irish system saw him rewarded with a cap against Canada in November that year, but he has been unable to get back into the mix after struggling to break CJ Stander's hold on the Munster No 8 shirt.

Replacing John Muldoon should put him back in the international shop window, but Copeland (right) - who turns 31 in October - is not expecting a call-up.

"It's not even on my radar to be honest. If you think Joe Schmidt is going to blood in a 30, 31-year-old for a World Cup or anything like that... I'm not on his radar," he said.

"I'm not even going to think about that. Because what I want to do is take Connacht to the next level, get in the team, start week in, week out, prove myself to my peers and the fans that 'this guy is here and is going to be great for us when the chips are down, he is going to get us where we need to get to'.

"That's all I'm looking at.

"If anything else happens after that... I'm always friendly to Joe, he is a very nice guy but it's not on my radar.

"He is an interesting, intense individual. He has a big plan and I'm not naive to what he is trying to achieve, his long-term goals, it's there in front of everyone, everyone can see it.

"He brings in young guys and brings in guys consistently because he has a game-plan and a system. A player on form is not necessarily what he looks at and it works, you can't deny his plan works so, no, it's not on my radar, it is not one of my goals because I have so many goals before that I need to tick off.

"It's not something I am looking at. Do I think I'd be able for it?

"I'd back myself 100pc if I got that call."

Speaking at the announcement that his old club Cardiff's opening fixture against Leinster will be broadcast free-to-air by eir Sport on the opening weekend of the Guinness PRO14 season on August 31, Copeland (above) said he was told to focus on his consistency when he last received rugby advice from the coach.

However, his most recent social meeting with the New Zealander brought a different type of feedback.

"More the mental side. Cutting out errors would be a lot of it. I dunno, I haven't spoke to him in a little while," he said before being asked if he gets on with the Ireland coach.

"I get on with him, he's grand to me. I did a bit of hosting for the players' awards at the end of the season. Just some Q&As, light banter between people. He came up to me and I was waiting for him to say, 'Well done' but he said, 'Maybe get somebody else to do it next year!'

"So that says a lot about mine and Joe's relationship. I was like, 'Thanks coach, you're doing a great job!' I know I am not on his radar at the moment."

Irish Independent

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