Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 21 September 2014

Court: Let me at the Aussies, mate

Tom Court

There is something incongruous about hearing of a desire to “get stuck into the Aussies” when the sentiment is expressed in a clear Australian accent.

Yet Ulster’s Tom Court leaves the listener in no doubt as to his Irishness or his pride in the fact.

Named on the bench for Sunday’s Croke Park battle with Australia, he admits he is itching to get at opponents, a number of whom he has played with and against.

His grandfather was from Limerick, his grandmother from Co Clare. And from the day and hour he declared himself to be in the frame to play for Ireland he has been looking forward to facing the Australians.

“For the best part of four years this is the game I’ve been waiting for and dying to play in. When I made my debut in the green — I went to the Churchill Cup pretty much straightaway after arriving here — at that point I’d decided that I wanted to play for Ireland.

“I have never regretted that and the prospect of playing against Australia in Dublin is great,” says Court.

“I’ve played with and against a few of these guys in Australia and they’re a great bunch off the field. On it, though, they’d step on their own grandmother to beat you to a ball on the try line.

“So once I cross the white line to face them — I’m hoping to get a run at some stage — all bets are off.”

Admitting that his Irish team mates tease him about his background, he says he can handle the banter.

“Yeah, I can deal with that whole Plastic Paddy thing from the guys. Every now and again they start the ‘Mate mate, mate’ thing with an Australian accent, but I guess that happens in any team where you have a guy who sounds a bit different. You know you’re always going to get a bit of that stuff in those circumstances.

“But it’s okay. I know the guys are just having a bit of fun. And, to be honest, I think they are probably able to understand my accent better than that of some of the guys from Nenagh or Cork!”

Court, who lost out to Leinster loose head Cian Healy in the starting line-up, made it clear that while he is delighted to have made Sunday’s ‘22’, after what he admitted has been “a slow start to the season on my part”, he is intent on pushing for a starting place.

“Declan (Kidney) has told everybody that this is a fresh start and a new campaign. Everybody starts from scratch after what was achieved last season,” he said.

“I am hungry for this — and not just hungry to be in the squad. I don’t want to be an also-ran. I have ambitions, both at club and international levels, and I realise that the better I play for Ulster the better my prospects of Irish inclusion.

“A three-match autumn series gives you three chances to be included in a starting line-up. This time I start on the bench But it’s up to me to take my chance if one comes my way.

“I really just want to get a crack at the Aussies this weekend.”

Spoken like a true Irishman — with an Australian accent.

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