Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 10 July 2014

McFadden happy to wait for a key role

Fergus McFadden is in the thick of the action at Ireland training at Carton House, Maynooth yesterday

When Fergus McFadden goes to work he has to cope with a level of competition that is not experienced in too many other professions.

He is pitching on a daily basis for scarce openings to give full vent to his talents as if every training session is an audition. He is also doing so out of position for McFadden has never started in his favoured inside centre position for his country in 16 outings.

He has played at 13 but for a player whose natural habitat is the number 12 shirt it just isn't the same ... especially given the competition at 13 is at both national and club levels.

So McFadden has spent time reinventing himself as a wing. He has done marvellously well there but he is still in competition in an environment where there is no room for error.

Those charged with passing judgement on his performances have to evaluate his comparative standing with pitiless objectivity.

A full appreciation of McFadden's difficulties can only be gauged when you consider the competition he has faced for one of the wing berths in this season's Six Nations Championship – Simon Zebo, Craig Gilroy, Keith Earls, Luke Fitzgerald.

To suggest that his position is daunting is to be guilty of under-statement.

It's also been hugely frustrating. He has been involved in all the training camps since the start of the Championship but this is the first time he'll be staying for the duration. McFadden starts against France for what will be his 17th Ireland cap.

"At the start of the championship I was very disappointed not to be involved," said McFadden. "It is frustrating but I knew it was going to be a long campaign and thankfully things have fallen my way this week."

He doesn't allow himself to get too despondent anymore when selection calls go against him these days.

"I've learned the best way to get on with things is to look forward to your next game. Thankfully I had a match last week with Leinster that got my mind off it.

"I got 75 minutes against Newport at the weekend and it was a release in a way. Look it's the ultimate cliché but in this game you really do have to take it week-by-week.

"Last week I wasn't involved, this week I'm starting. So the difference a week can make is huge so you always have to stay positive."

Two weeks ago the 27-year-old watched Ireland implode in Murrayfield from the comfort of his apartment couch.

"It was very disappointing to see Ireland lose a match we should never have lost.

"You have to put that hurt to the side though and realise that this is going to be a big test for us. We are facing a France team who are wounded and are full of talent.

They are dangerous and depending on the day, the French being the French they can turn up and play some unbelievable rugby.

"We have to be conscious of that. We've only beaten France, what, twice since Drico (Brian O'Driscoll) scored those three tries in Paris. So, twice since 2001 ... .?"

McFadden is clearly, and understandably, chuffed to be starting in the Aviva this weekend. He wasn't, he revealed, tipped off that he was included before the team was revealed to the squad on Tuesday evening.

"Generally when you're not pulled aside for a 'chat' by Declan it's a good thing so you'd be avoiding it as much as possible!"

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