Tuesday 11 December 2018

Molony: When you're left out, you have to channel anger in right way

Ross Molony. Photo: Matt Browne/Sportsfile
Ross Molony. Photo: Matt Browne/Sportsfile

Sam Wheeler

Ross Molony is not happy about slipping a bit further down the Leinster second-row pecking order than he might have expected this season, but he is channelling his disappointment in exactly the right way.

Instead of sulking, the 23-year-old - who captains the side in Glasgow tonight - has been working even harder to improve himself, and making sure that whenever he does get game-time, he makes as big an impact as possible.

With veteran locks Hayden Triggs and Mike McCarthy moving on at the end of last season, Molony must surely have felt there was an opportunity to build on the huge promise he has shown over the last couple of seasons, and really push to start in the biggest games.

However, the arrival of Scott Fardy, the emergence of James Ryan and the continuing excellence of Devin Toner mean that competition for berths in the engine-room is as fierce as ever.

For the Champions Cup opener against Montpellier, Molony was initially named on the bench, with Fardy and Toner starting; when Fardy had to pull out for personal reasons, Ryan - who was two years behind Molony at St Michael's - was drafted straight into the XV.

The following week, for the European clash in Glasgow, Molony missed out altogether.

He didn't like it, but the toys stayed in the pram.

"Two weeks ago I was playing with the A team in Donnybrook, the week of the Glasgow away victory. It could happen where you might lose focus and get a bit annoyed," he says.

"But you have to get on with what is happening that week and not get worked up about other things. I have to focus on my own stuff, I can't be letting other stuff impact how I'm playing."

Ryan was capped by Ireland in the summer, before he had played a senior game for Leinster - he spent most of last season injured - and is clearly seen by Joe Schmidt as a coming force.

Eclipsed

Molony, though, doesn't see himself as having been eclipsed by his former schoolmate. He points out that they don't actually play in the same position.

"Well the way I'd see it is as loosehead lock/tighthead lock scenario," he says. "I grew up being the caller in the lineout, the defensive organiser (No 4).

"The tighthead lock (No 5) puts the hard shift in. I would see myself as that loosehead lock, and Devin is that as well. So maybe playing two loosehead locks wouldn't have been the answer.

"At the same time, you can probably channel that (anger) when you are given a chance to play, or brought on (Molony replaced an injured Ryan after just 11 minutes at Kingspan Stadium last weekend) - you almost have a point to prove.

"You can't let it affect you. But I went out in that game a bit annoyed, a bit of a point to prove. It does affect how you go into that game and you want to play well. You could argue you want to try to use that emotion every week to bring that performance into every game you play…"

Molony, who certainly impressed in the fine win over Ulster, has no issue with the decision to sign Fardy. He is full of praise for the experienced Australian, saying how much he can learn from him.

"There are always going to be players there in your position that you are competing with," he says. "Over the years we had Hayden and Mike. It's nice to have competition, it drives you each week.

"I can only focus on my own game and keep showing the coaches what I can bring and put myself in that position to be in as a starter and established.

What specifically does the 6ft 6in, 17st 9lb Dubliner need to do?

"I could probably work on the physical side, having an impact on the game more than I would be at the moment," he says. "Keep tipping away at gym work - if you are going to be playing every week and in the big games you want to be in the best condition you can possibly be in.

"You can do that by working individually outside of the programmes we are given and all those extras add up to making yourself a better player."

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