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‘Not everything needs to be at a million miles an hour’ – Scrum-half Craig Casey sees himself as much improved

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Ireland's Craig Casey and Will Connors during last February's Six Nations clash against Italy at Stadio Olimpico, Rome. Photo: Roberto Bregani/Sportsfile

Ireland's Craig Casey and Will Connors during last February's Six Nations clash against Italy at Stadio Olimpico, Rome. Photo: Roberto Bregani/Sportsfile

Ireland's Craig Casey and Will Connors during last February's Six Nations clash against Italy at Stadio Olimpico, Rome. Photo: Roberto Bregani/Sportsfile

This Sunday marks exactly one year to the day since Craig Casey made his Ireland debut.

There is a nice symmetry then to the fact that Casey is set to feature against the same opposition, as Italy arrive in Dublin this weekend.

The world is a very different place to what it was 12 months ago, when Casey pulled on the green jersey for the first time, surrounded by the bleakness of an empty stadium.

With a full house expected at the Aviva, it’s a sign of how far we have come in the time since, whilst Casey has also developed in terms of what is demanded of him at Test level.

“I think I’ve improved in all areas really,” the Munster scrum-half reflected.

“I’ve become a lot calmer on the field, a lot less frantic, just clearer in my head – what I want to do with decisions and stuff like that, but still playing with some bit of pace.

“That’s one of the biggest learning curves I had just trying to be calm in decisions. Not everything needs to be at a million miles an hour.”

Since blazing a trail with Ardscoil Rís and later the Ireland U-20s, playing at high tempo coupled with his bullet pass, has always been Casey’s point of difference.

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However, he has made minor tweaks along the way in his quest to get more game-time with Munster and Ireland. “Just practicing it day-in, day-out in training and then going back to coaches and seeing what they thought of the sessions, where you could improve on in that session and just taking their feedback and trying to bring it into the next day and still bring that calmness,” the 22-year-old explained.

“It’s almost treating training like matches every day. You go out to the field and it’s almost like a match scenario, keep working on that during those match situations.”

It helps that the Limerick man is feeling much more at home in the international camp these days, not that he would ever allow himself to feel comfortable in such a high performance environment.

“I was just thinking that the other day actually. It’s been just a year and the first time you are coming up into camp it is ‘Oh God’. You are overawed with everything.

“Then obviously driving up now it is just like a place you absolutely love to be in. Like you said, getting a bit more comfortable but I don’t think you can be too comfortable in an Irish camp with the competition around.”

Casey will hope to win his fifth cap against Italy on Sunday because for all that he has become a regular in the Ireland squad, he has had to stay patient for his opportunities.

“Obviously you want to be playing in every game,” he added.

“It is about being patient. Hopefully taking the chance when you get it and when you go out of international camp try to work on the things they want you to work on when you go back to the province and implement them again.

“So you are putting it into match practice and then put your best foot forward in the next camp.

“You want to be playing in every game so when I get the chances again hopefully take them and start driving the caps on.”


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