Thursday 14 December 2017

'It was a great experience to be out there with some of my heroes' - Ireland's new boy in dreamland

Ireland players, from left, Dave Kilcoyne, Kieran Treadwell and Luke Marshall leave the pitch after the international rugby match between Japan and Ireland
Ireland players, from left, Dave Kilcoyne, Kieran Treadwell and Luke Marshall leave the pitch after the international rugby match between Japan and Ireland

Brendan Fanning in Tokyo

Going to the final Test of any tour with four fit second rows is what most coaches would consider a luxury.

Joe Schmidt has his go-to starters on this trip in Devin Toner and Quinn Roux, and backing them up are the new arrivals James Ryan and Kieran Treadwell.

The Ulster lock is a perfect example of how a change in scenery can improve your quality of life. So shifting from the Harlequins Academy – he was part of England’s U20 side in 2015 - to a two-year deal with Ulster was just that. That his mother is from Wexford made a bigger picture of the move across.

“I can't really put it into words now,” he said after Saturday’s hammering of Japan. “I'm still in a little bit of a shock, but I was just honoured and privileged to get out there and put the shirt on.

“Obviously it was my first cap and I've got a lot of learning to do but it was a great experience to be out there with some of my heroes. To get out there and play and for the team to get the 'W' was great.”

The standard experience for international is debutants is that the pace at that level is a shock to the system. When that debut is made in challenging conditions as obtained in Ecopa Stadium then it steepens the climb.

"You could say that,” he says. “But you only ever get a first cap so I just went out and there played as hard as I could for as long as I could. As I said before, this is a learning experience for me. I just want to pick up everything like a sponge and just take everything I can. Just try to make myself a better player and aim to get into the team next week.”

He made four tackles and missed one in his 17 minutes on the field. Clearly it wasn’t in the same category of drama as James Ryan in New Jersey the previous week with a try inside 60 seconds, but Treadwell can be happy with his lot. Having looked good in an ordinary provincial side, where he got 21 games this season, he looks better already for the experience of being out here.

"I had a (Ireland) camp before Christmas, which was good, getting in there and getting a feel for the whole thing. Then I found out I was coming here. Coming over with some of the Ulster boys was quite good. Jacob (Stockdale) and myself are the same age and we know each other quite well.

“Then, also, this is such a great team to be integrated into. They're really, really friendly and I felt like I was part of the team straight away. Joe, Simon (Easterby) and Feeky (Greg Feek) have been a great help. Everyone is there to lend a hand. Anything you want, you just go to one of them and they'll answer any questions that you've got. It's just been a great experience. I'm finding it hard to put it into words.”

He may have struggled for words but he managed not to mention ‘work-ons,’ ‘behaviours,’ ‘learnings,’ or ‘takeaways,’ so his vocabulary is holding up well enough. And clearly so is his game.

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