Saturday 21 July 2018

Molony aims to build on momentum

Ross Molony (Photo: Sportsfile)
Ross Molony (Photo: Sportsfile)
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

On a personal level, it's already been a hugely successful campaign for Ross Molony and he is determined to finish it on a high and carry the momentum that he has gained into next season.

The second-row made just two appearances in the Pro12 last year but this term, he has already lined out 17 times for his home province.

As a former captain of the Leinster U-20s, Molony's talent was always evident and even with the return of Mick McGrath, Leo Cullen has handed him plenty of opportunities.

The World Cup period was hugely beneficial in terms of his development while during the Six Nations window, Molony also stood out, but with all of the international players back in tow now, he is ready to fight for his place.

Molony was given 16 minutes off the bench against Munster and he played his part in a crucial victory at the Aviva Stadium.

"I'm really happy with the game-time I've got," the former St. Michael's College student said.

"Looking back last year, if you told me I would play as much as I have so far, I wouldn't have believed it.

"I looked at this season as two windows. I managed to play during the World Cup and Six Nations and get game-time in between those.

"I like to see it as every week I'm fighting for one of the jerseys. I put my hand up in training and get into the right physical condition to be picked. I take confidence from the game-time. I've learned a lot in a year."

Unlike his young team-mates Josh van der Flier and Garry Ringrose, Molony has not yet been called into Carton House to train with the Ireland team but there is a growing sense that if he continues on this upward trajectory, his time will soon come.

Molony has watched Ringrose and in particular Van der Flier made great strides this season, while he has also kept a close eye on Maro Itoje's rapid rate of progression, as he played against the new England sensation at underage international level.

"It gives you an idea of how close you can be to that set-up," Molony said.

"I've been playing with Josh and Garry for a while and to see them make progress is brilliant.

"I want to learn from everyone as much as I can and create my own style of play, looking at the lineout and having my own view of defensive and attacking lineouts.

"Itoje is some athlete. I played with the (Ireland) U-19s and U-20s against him. I've played him three or four times and never beaten him. It is incredible to see how far he has come in such a short pace of time. You get an idea of where you need to be. It is exciting to see where he is."

The return of Devin Toner from Ireland duty has meant that Molony has a real fight on his hands to secure more game-time but it's a scrap that while he is well up for; he also knows the importance of learning from someone with Toner's experience.

"I am looking to learn the whole time. I've done work with Kurt (McQuilkin) in one-on-one sessions in defence. He's brilliant for that," he said.

"Leo, a former second-row, and Dev coming from the Irish set-up, there's loads for me to learn there. For me, it's just developing my own game. I'm still young enough. Hopefully, I have a few more years to get the jersey.

"In terms of the basics, catch and pass, you always need to be working on that.

"You shouldn't sacrifice other things for that. I try to put the work in early in the week and know the opposition's lineouts and to know where we can win the ball."

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