Sunday 23 September 2018

Scannell happy to skip the sunshine after unlucky spell

'Although it’s been almost a year, Scannell knows what it will take against formidable opposition as Ireland look to level the series with a win in Melbourne' Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
'Although it’s been almost a year, Scannell knows what it will take against formidable opposition as Ireland look to level the series with a win in Melbourne' Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Rúaidhri O'Connor

Niall Scannell's cancelled holiday plans are a touchy subject but when Ireland's call came he couldn't turn it down.

Initially brought into the squad as an extra body for training in the week before departure, the Munster hooker is now starting the pivotal second Test after replacing injured captain Rory Best in the travelling squad.

The sun lounger can wait, this is an opportunity he couldn't pass up having had an injury-disrupted season.

His last cap came off the bench in Tokyo 12 months ago and when he finished that summer tour he'd have been forgiven for feeling confident about his place in the Irish pecking order.

However, his momentum was checked by a series of unfortunately-timed injuries.

So, he is desperate to stake his claim having been included from the start this morning.

"Rory has the jersey at the moment, we all know that; he is the skipper and the rest of us are probably fighting for that second spot," he said.

"Being honest, I thought I had a good summer in Japan and America, but this season didn't really break for me and I didn't really get a flow of games.

"It has been a frustrating season for me, really, with injuries.

"Thankfully I haven't had any big injuries but I seem to keep getting knock after knock after knock.

"I have felt I have fallen out of that hunt a small bit but I probably got on the plane fortuitously - after Rory failed his fitness test - but since I got here, I have just tried to knuckle down and get on the same wavelength as everyone in terms of the knowledge, the detail and to work physically hard.

"Now, thankfully, I have been given a chance, I just have to grab it."

Although it's been almost a year, Scannell knows what it will take against formidable opposition as Ireland look to level the series with a win in Melbourne.

"They bring you to a dark place, and that's brilliant, I am relishing that," he said.

"You know you are going to be tested and you are going to come out of it on Saturday knowing a lot more about yourself as a person as well as a rugby player.

"It is going to be a massive battle. They have the confidence about them after their performance last week."

Irish Independent

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