Wednesday 21 February 2018

Claffey aiming to push on after training with Ireland's senior team

Ireland U20 Peter Claffey learnt a lot training under the watchful eye of Joe Schmidt. Photo: Ramsey Cardy / SPORTSFILE
Ireland U20 Peter Claffey learnt a lot training under the watchful eye of Joe Schmidt. Photo: Ramsey Cardy / SPORTSFILE
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

To say that Ireland U-20s' Six Nations hasn't gone according to plan thus far would be an understatement of the highest order but after a week off, they will be desperate to bounce back against England on Friday night.

Back-to-back defeats have left Ireland clambering to get a point on the board but they will be hoping to take confidence from last Friday's session in which they trained with the senior side in Mullingar.

Eighteen of Nigel Carolan's youngsters trained under Joe Schmidt's watchful eye and second-row Peter Claffey said he and his team-mates learned a lot from the session.

"It was rapid," the Connacht player enthused. "The first five or 10 minutes I was just looking . . . we started off doing units and were doing line-outs. And you're going in to a line-out looking across: there's Jamie Heaslip, there's Devin Toner and it's getting to grips with that.

"It was a huge experience. The pace and skill-set they have, we got a lot of work out of that and I think it's going to help us big-time.

"He (Schmidt) didn't really talk to us on our own game, we were mirroring the English senior side for them - he brought such speed and enthusiasm into his training, it was really energetic, really good.

"It did get kind of physical. It was kind of grab and touch, but it got pretty physical. It was a great experience, it was class.

"Coming up against players of that level and size is going to be a huge help for us going in to the next game."

Like the majority of his team-mates, Claffey is getting his first taste of international rugby at U-20 level but he believes that lessons have been learned from the defeats to Wales and France.

"In both games we've come out all guns blazing in the first halves," he said. "It's been neck and neck going in to half-time, then in the second half, due to our mistakes we don't really show up, not even coming out of the dressing-rooms you could say.

"In the reviews it's coming down to our mistakes, and the opportunities we gave to Wales and France, they were very clinical in punishing us.

"There are positives from our set-piece, so we're going to take them and push on.

"Mistakes like an intercept, just not looking up and scanning. We need to be aware of them."

Irish Independent

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