Saturday 18 January 2020

Butler backs omitted Ireland players to react in the right way

Jarrad Butler. Photo: Sportsfile
Jarrad Butler. Photo: Sportsfile

John Fallon

Skipper Jarrad Butler has had to deal with contrasting emotions in the Connacht changing room at the Sportsground this week as several members of the squad received mixed news from the Irish camp.

Butler will become Irish-qualified next summer and will come into contention if he continues the form he has shown in the past two and a half years since moving from Australia.

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And while the likes of Ultan Dillane, Quinn Roux, Caolin Blade and Dave Heffernan received call-ups from Andy Farrell for his first Irish camp, others such as Jack Carty, Finlay Bealham and Kieran Marmion had the disappointment of missing out.

Butler, who was appointed captain when Andy Friend took charge after a brilliant first season, has been helping players deal with the news as they prepare for a triple series of inter-provincials, starting tomorrow against Munster.

"It was great to see guys like Dave Heffernan getting called in there and the usual guys as well," said the 28-year-old back-row.

"It can be disappointing for others as well. One thing Jack (Carty) is best at, is that mental stuff as well. He works really hard on that mindfulness. He will definitely have something in place for it. Just focus on his job because I think he knows when he is playing well that is when those opportunities come.

"There is still plenty of time and opportunities, particularly with these local derbies coming up now. This is when you really get the chance to put your hand up against guys that you are competing with for those spots.

"It is tough for Kieran Marmion because he hasn't been playing much at the moment. And exactly the same for Finlay. He was really good last weekend, it was probably the most physical I have seen him. He is really starting to find some form now as well. He will be disappointed but he knows, and we all know, what he is capable of and how is able to play when he hits his straps."

Butler said that players who have missed out need to follow the example of Dillane and Roux, who put their World Cup omission behind them and produced big displays for Connacht which propelled them back into the international fold.

He added that their dramatic comeback win over Gloucester last weekend has given them a spring in their step facing into the derby games, admitting there's a lot at stake tomorrow evening at the Sportsground.

"I appreciate this one because they are in the same pool as us and we are coming first and second. It is an eight- or ten-point game. You can put yourself in a really good spot or put yourself under a bit of pressure.

"I do understand guys may be playing against guys they have grown up with, that you played schoolboys with, gone to school with. That adds that element for the local guys and I can appreciate that."

Irish Independent

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