Friday 17 August 2018

John Muldoon: It's bound to be emotional but I want to come back home again

Player Diary: John Muldoon

Connacht captain John Muldoon lifts the trophy following his side’s victory over Leinster in the PRO12 final at Murrayfield. Photo: Sportsfile
Connacht captain John Muldoon lifts the trophy following his side’s victory over Leinster in the PRO12 final at Murrayfield. Photo: Sportsfile

My last game for Connacht is just around the corner. It's the final time to throw on the green jersey, and I just want to do the lads justice before I bow out at the Sportsground.

It has actually crept up on me and I have had mixed emotions this week when I have gone into training with the lads. They've got stuck into me of course, telling me this was my last legs session, my last gym session and so on.

It was bittersweet getting ready for this game against Leinster. It has built up nicely towards a game against a phenomenal team. And they were outstanding in their Champions Cup win over Scarlets again last weekend.

It certainly won't be easy to finish my career against them, but I am looking forward to getting stuck into my last game for Connacht.

After all, I don't know do I want to be listening to all of these sentiments about me, it feels like I am about to be buried on Saturday, not going out to play a rugby match.

The support has been fantastic though. Since I have announced that I am going to Bristol, people understand the reasons behind it and the opportunity that awaits me in the English Premiership. It'll be great to go and experience something different.

A few people got confused and thought last weekend was my last game; there were a couple of early texts, and it's been good to hear what people thought of me as a Connacht player and captain.

And while I appreciate all of it, it feels a bit odd. At the end of the day I am one of many people who have taken the jersey on in an attempt to make the team better from my position on the field.

I don't feel I deserve this more than anyone else. I understand that I have been here for a long time. And although I appreciate it all, it can be a bit overwhelming too.

We will see how the emotions are when the full-time comes. I have been building up to this for quite a while, and knowing that it was going to be my last year, hopefully I won't be too emotional and it won't get the better of me.

It was always going to be a tough day, emotional for my family as well, and the amount of support they gave me over the years was phenomenal. I am sure they will find it hard too.

But there's a new chapter. I turn the page and switch from player to coach. Being a professional coach and going to Bristol is something very different for me.

However, if I was going into a normal day to day job it would probably be more difficult to get my head around it. The fact that I am staying in rugby it makes it hugely exciting for me. Going to a big club like Bristol and the people I know over there obviously eases the pain a little bit too.

Someday I will hopefully be back in Connacht again. But that's a way down the line. It will be an interesting few years for me over in Bristol, but an opportunity to experience a different league and competition. Hopefully I can learn and gain that experience which will be vital coming back.

I would love to come back to Connacht but a lot of water will have to go under the bridge first. I might be useless and Bristol could get rid of me before the end of the year. A lot of things have to go right, a lot of stars have to align, but this is my home and I would love to be back in the future.

The PRO12 title success was the obvious highlight along the way for me. There were a lot of good and bad days in it but I will always look back on the final with a smile on my face when I see or think of it. That is only natural.

There have been tough times, getting up on a Monday morning and going in training, and everything that goes with that. But by and large I have enjoyed every minute of it. I have been afforded a great lifestyle and opportunity in Connacht Rugby. I never forgot that every day I got up. I enjoyed it and made the most out of it.

On a personal note, it would be great to finish with a win against Leinster. But no matter what team they pick, when you look through their squad, the capability and players that they have, it's phenomenal.

It's a credit to Leinster, what they have done over the last few years. The amount of players that they have brought through their academy and some of the players they have signed have complemented that. Great credit to them and what they have done to get back to the top again.

It won't be an easy task but we will try and finish on a high. If we do we do and if we don't it will be another one that got away. We want to win for the fans.

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