Dave Kilcoyne: I could sit around feeling sorry for myself, but it's about how I react
I suppose everyone is wondering how I took the news about missing out on the Six Nations squad, and all I can say is it was gut-wrenching to be left out.
The way it works is an email is sent out to you on the Monday morning if you're in. If it doesn't arrive, it means you are not selected. But Joe Schmidt had already given me a shout on Sunday to break the news to me and explain his thinking.
I was obviously bitterly disappointed, but still, I'm very keen to keep pushing forward and be ready to play some part if I'm needed in the Six Nations. I'm going to be ready anyway.
When Joe rang me about it, we went through the reasons that I wasn't involved. It goes without saying that I was majorly disappointed, but it has already made me hungrier to keep pressing forward to reach my goal.
When I missed out on the November Tests, Joe gave me a list of things to work on, and fair play to him, he said that he was very pleased with the progress and improvement that I've made to my game since then.
He gave me great feedback on what he was happy with, but told me what I need to scrub up on too. And that's all you want really from a head coach. He was honest and up front with me in regard to his decision and I am going to work really hard in the next few Pro12 games to get back in. It's a fair enough call, but it's still tough to take.
I could sit around with a long face, feeling sorry for myself, but I think it is all about how I will react to this.
If I give what's wanted from me and use the disappointment to fuel my fire, then it can only benefit myself, Munster and Ireland in the long run.
With so much tragedy happening around the place, it puts something small like this into perspective.
But overall I had a great week in the Irish camp and loved every minute of it.
The Wolfhounds team trained with the seniors all week. We ran plays against them, and after all of that we ran through Wolfhounds-only plays.
It was great to take the win on Saturday over England Saxons and I really think it was a good warm-up for those lads lucky enough to be involved in the Six Nations opener this weekend.
There was a huge defensive effort shown at the end at Kingsholm to hold the Saxons out and I'm sure Joe and the back-room team will take massive encouragement from that.
Personally, I was pretty happy with how I did last weekend. I got about 50 minutes field time and I managed to rack up nine carries during that, which was pleasing.
I was happy with my tackle count, too, and I thought the scrum went very well for us. It was probably one of my best games all year, but it just goes to show what level the squad is operating at now.
Everyone talks about the level of detail that Joe has brought to the Ireland camp and it is pretty amazing to see it first hand. The Leinster lads are used to his methods a bit more, but all the lads from the other three provinces have bought into it too. He has spotted things that I need to sharpen up on personally, so I'm sure he has that level of feedback for all the lads. It's great to see.
After the news of the Ireland squad broke, Rob Penney rang me and he was quick to turn my focus back to Munster. He was really supportive and after a few days of recovery and training on my own, I am due to go back training with the boys today. Then it's back to training 'full metal jacket' with the Munster lads on Monday in preparation for Cardiff.
We have a couple of tough ones to come in the next few weeks – Cardiff Blues at home in Thomond will be a great day out. You are always guaranteed a quality rugby match against the Blues. With Robin Copeland involved in the Ireland camp, it is probably unlikely that he'll be involved for Cardiff, which is a shame for any locals looking forward to having a closer look at him ahead of his move here. But they still have plenty of strength in depth.
A few of us Munster lads missed out on the Ireland squad, so we'll all be very keen to play next weekend. I suppose game time is vital for us, but we'll be more interested in keeping Munster's good run in the competition going.
So far we have 10 wins from our 12 games and lead Leinster by three points at the top of the table, but it could have been a lot healthier if we had finished off the job up in Ravenhill during the Christmas period.
We have four consecutive games in the competition before the next break, with Cardiff and Zebre at home before Ospreys and Scarlets away. A win next week would be the best way to get another good run going.
I must say, we were all a bit worried about my housemate Paddy Butler when we heard his Shannon match had to be abandoned because of his injury. However, after ferrying him around to the doctors all week, I am happy to report he still has all his faculties intact.
It sounds terrible – he picked up a spinal concussion – but after he got a couple of stitches out he was in good form. He was even back in full training this week, so thankfully he's okay. He is mad keen to play a bit after his injury problems earlier in the year, so, hopefully, we can put in some right good work this week and get ourselves set for Cardiff.