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Saints centre Downey still hoping for Ireland call

James Downey says he hasn't given up hope of securing a place in the Ireland squad for the World Cup later this year.

The Northampton Saints centre has played a pivotal role in his side's run to the semi-finals of the Heineken Cup and has been a regular for the Aviva Premiership outfit since joining the club in 2007.

However, despite being part of the Ireland side that won the Churchill Cup in 2009, Downey is still waiting on his first full cap.

"It goes without saying that I'd love to be involved," said the 30-year-old Dubliner.

With Northampton in contention for honours in both the Premiership and the Heineken Cup, Ireland coach Declan Kidney will have ample opportunity to assess Downey's credentials over the coming weeks.

"We've got a massive month or so ahead with Northampton, so that's what I'm focused on," Downey said.

"If I can perform to the best of my ability between now and the end of the season, I'm sure there'll be a chance of pushing for a place in the squad.

"My form is the only thing I'm in control of and that's important to remember. What players make the squad is up to Declan, it's not my call.

"Regardless of who gets in, I'm sure it won't be an easy decision for him because there are a lot of top players there with serious cases for inclusion."

While the former Calvisano centre has yet to be capped by Ireland, he is on Kidney's radar.

However, he knows that his cause hasn't been helped by playing his club rugby in England.

Downey said: "That probably does have an impact, but all I can do is continue to perform for Northampton and hope that'll be enough.

"Declan has been in touch and spoken to me about it in the past, so it's good to know that I'm in his thoughts.

"Getting a call-up isn't something that's on my mind going into every game. It probably was last Sunday because we were playing Ulster and I was up against Paddy (Wallace).

"But, generally, I just focus on my own game and that's what I'll do for the next few weeks as well."

Irish Independent