Belfast Telegraph

Conway giving himself an edge as he aims to push on with Ireland

By Brendan Fanning

If the theme of this Ireland trip has been one of letting the kids loose and watching them grow, there are a handful who don’t fit into that category. And Andrew Conway would be one of them.

At 25 he is in bus pass territory in this group, but he is not weighed down with caps. One, to be exact, before coming out here to Japan. For a man who made his Leinster debut as an 18-year-old, he might have been expected to be further along. But it took the shift south to Munster in the summer of 2013 to give him direction.

“It probably happened a bit too quick for me,” he said. “When I made my debut at 18 I probably thought it would go bang, bang, bang. And whenever it didn’t, I wasn’t able to hone in on why.

“It’s a tough one, because it’s 25 before you start playing international rugby and consistently well for your province. But in the few years, I’ve been playing quite well for Munster and we weren’t going well at the time. It’s a weird one, but I’m at where I’m at now, and hoping to kick on.

“It made me reflect deeply on what I needed to do, and go over where I get my edge and probably put in a bit more mental preparation.

“Planning your training week out, I had never done that. And I’m sure a lot of lads at a high level don’t do that. But that’s my best way to approach things.

“It makes me more focused through the week, I have my boxes to tick and once I hit them, train hard and do my extras physically, and I’m doing all that stuff on the side mentally that maybe other guys aren’t doing, it just gives me an edge to perform.”

He had a mixed afternoon in Shizuoka, the low point being binned for what bizarrely was deemed to be a high tackle.

The speed with which Joe Schmidt went in to bat for him suggested he wouldn’t face an inquisition. However, the coach will have picked him up on a few other inaccuracies. What he has learned, though, is that losing one skirmish shouldn’t deter you. And he has the mental strength to get on with it.

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