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Confident Kieran Marmion ready to step up for Ireland

By David Kelly

Ireland will not look beyond each moment but their supporters will remain unforgiven for casting every action this spring in the context of a World Cup.

Italy and France conclude the World Cup pool stages in September; they begin the Six Nations championship in February.

Joe Schmidt's designs on a new, more aesthetically friendly style of rugby may be delayed by the absence of the best half-back partnership in world rugby - even the second-choice scrum-half may not be available.

Isaac Boss, the third-choice, is a hesitant pick at Leinster and remains the past, not the future. The present may dictate reality, particularly if Ian Madigan requires experienced counsel inside him.

Kieran Marmion, brimming with confidence in a Connacht side overflowing with oceans of the same, would appear to be a live option, regardless of concerns in Carton House about his kicking.

His audition on Friday for the Irish Wolfhounds against their English counterparts will hopefully augment his prospects.

"Injury is how a lot of people get their chance but you have to take the next game, which is the Wolfhounds, and if you can't perform in that then you're not going to be able to go to the next level so you just take it one step at a time," he said.

He did so last year but got no further until debuting in Argentina last summer. He then made an 18-minute cameo in the Georgian romp, all the while shining for Connacht.

"Every player in the country would like to go to the World Cup but the only way of doing that is by putting your hand up and performing consistently," he appreciates.

"So, that is a huge deal. Obviously I'd love to play this week. It's a great opportunity for everyone ahead of the Six Nations so everyone is focused on this game against a strong English side.

"It's a step up from any level we were playing with our clubs so obviously it's a chance to test ourselves to see if we're ready for the next level.

"We're not worried about who's missing. We're just going into the game looking to deliver as best as we can.

"It's obviously great to have competition, it brings everyone on to the next level as well as learning from these players.

"I've learned quite a bit from being in the environment. It does take a bit of getting used to but I feel like I've learned a good bit since I've come here and hopefully I'm ready to take that next step.

"As scrum-halves here, we're learning all the time. Joe has a certain way that he wants his No 9s to play and I just go out to try to deliver that as best as I can."

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