Tuesday 10 December 2019

Ireland on Marmion's mind as he prepares for Reddan battle

Connacht and Ireland scrum-half Kieran Marmion is looking to build on a breakthrough season. Photo: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
Connacht and Ireland scrum-half Kieran Marmion is looking to build on a breakthrough season. Photo: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

For Kieran Marmion, the relief at belatedly winning his first cap last summer in Argentina was soon followed by the realisation that he could cope at international level.

The 22-year-old was on his second summer tour, but this time he went from spectator to participant after travelling to the United States and Canada without winning his first cap.

If that hung over the subsequent campaign, the youngster turned it into a positive and went again, throwing himself into Connacht's efforts and winning the man-of-the-match award when they beat Toulouse away from home.

Conor Murray, Eoin Reddan and Isaac Boss were preferred by Joe Schmidt during the season, but his chance came in Resistencia where he came off the bench on the hour-mark.

After the game, Schmidt described the new cap as "a tiger", lauding his hard work while, as is the coach's wont, pointing out a moment of naiveté that you could be sure was fed back to the scrum-half.


He doubled his total a week later and now he is looking to build on a breakthrough season.

"Joe's in touch quite a bit, he's given us all goals and targets where he wants to see us improve. It's important that we show him what we can do," Marmion said.

"The tour was different; different intensity levels and enthusiasm. It was good for me to actually realise what's expected. I have to bring that into what I'm doing in Connacht.

"It was great to get out on the pitch, it's what everyone wants to do. It was a bit of a relief getting out there, so now I want to push on and get more caps if I can."

You can be sure that Schmidt will be watching closely at the Sportsground tomorrow as Marmion goes up against one of his direct Ireland in Reddan when Leinster come to town.

Yesterday, Jamie Heaslip pin-pointed him as a threat, while his fellow scrum-half Reddan is an admirer of the young tyro.

"He's a good player. He has played a lot of rugby in a row which I think is great for a No9," the Leinster man said this week. "He can obviously get used to managing a lot of different situations on the pitch and he is going really well."

The English-born, Welsh raised No9 was one of 10 players handed their international debuts by Schmidt in his first season. There will be less scope to impress this time around, but Marmion admits the World Cup is a target.

"Everyone wants to be there," Marmion admitted. "I wouldn't be saying I'm thinking about it that much this far out. If I do well here I might be selected."

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