Wednesday 26 June 2019

Cork Con lock Hayes believes Ireland U-20 star French is Stockdale 2.0

Hayes:
Hayes: "We’re getting old up front and not moving as well as we used to." Photo by Sam Barnes/Sportsfile
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

When Brian Hayes made his Munster debut against Australia in 2010, it seemed that he was destined for a successful career with his home province.

A combination of different factors meant that he only made a couple of appearances in his three years with the club before he moved to France to join Aurillac.

After slogging it out in a tough league, Hayes decided to move back home and concentrate on his career outside of rugby - despite having offers to remain in the game.

Since then he has become a vital part of a Cork Con team who are back in the AIL final and looking to win back the title they conceded to Lansdowne last year,

Standing in their way is an in-form Clontarf side, but Con are full of confidence themselves having finished top of the regular season table and having beaten 'Tarf twice already this season.

"I think there's been a big change in emphasis," Hayes explained.

Pulled

"We're getting old up front and not moving as well as we used to. I suppose that's a lot of it, but I think Aidan Moynihan has come in at 10 and pulled the strings very well.

"He's moving us around the pitch a lot better than we had been. We've young fellas on the wing that are finishing tries that they really shouldn't be finishing, which helps a lot as well."

Those "young fellas" Hayes is referring to include the likes of Shane Daly and Alex McHenry, as well as recent Ireland U-20s Grand Slam winners Sean French and Jonathan Wren.

All four talents are in the Munster set-up and with Con recognising the talent at their disposal, they have moved away from that forward-orientated game.

"I suppose I've been playing this standard a long time and you mentioned there Alex, Sean and Shane Daly as well," Hayes said.

"To take Sean French as an example, you see Jacob Stockdale? He's him 2.0 really, he's the same. You give him the ball and you expect a try.

"That can be on our own '22' or it could be in their '22'. Both feet, he has deft kicking. He can kick it along the touchline, he can kick it over people. It's very exciting."

Having packed in professional rugby, Sunday's final (3.0) at the Aviva is a massive occasion for players like Hayes.

"Rugby in Ireland is a bit weird. I would have had a big GAA background, I would have been Nemo Rangers," he says.

"I'd identify with a club more than anything else. I grew up around rugby around the time Munster had that team that were doing everything so well."

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