Belfast Telegraph

Gibson-Park not expecting Irish call anytime soon

 

In wings: Jamison Gibson-Park will soon qualify for Ireland
In wings: Jamison Gibson-Park will soon qualify for Ireland
David Kelly

By David Kelly

Jamison Gibson-Park has always known there would be a time and a date when the potential for switching national allegiance might dawn.

It's a concept that remains distasteful for many globally, not just here - particularly ironic as the IRFU's hedging on the future of the international game purportedly places them in the vanguard of old-world exclusion of the less privileged.

This Kiwi scrum-half is just a pro ball player, though, playing by the rules as they now stand; or at least, stood, given that he will be one of the last to take advantage of the three-year residency ruling. This summer, he can declare for Ireland.

"June?" he was prompted. "August, I believe," he replied.

Timely, then, given the beginning of the World Cup warm-ups.

"I don't really know what the schedule looks like. I haven't been given the schedule," he said.

Perhaps the conversation might have been different during a sticky Six Nations for the Irish, with Conor Murray out of form, his Leinster colleague Luke McGrath scratched, and the combined efforts of Kieran Marmion and John Cooney, based on minutes, seemingly shorn of their coaching staff's complete faith.

Now, McGrath is restored to full health, a natural back-up to a Murray revived in red; all the while Cooney and Marmion remain keen adversaries for that coveted plane ticket to Japan, the Ulster player's versatility perhaps edging his candidacy.

And so Gibson-Park, perhaps more coveted in March than he might be in June, remains sanguine about his chances.

"I wouldn't say so, no. If I was the coach, I'd probably be sticking with guys who have played the last few years," he said.

A more pressing problem is his eligibility for Leinster; while awaiting his international clearance, prevailing regulations in Europe require that Leo Cullen's men must at all times stand down one of their world-class imports; namely the consummate Gibson-Park, combustible wing James Lowe and the confrontational forward Scott Fardy.

"It will be nice in here so we won't have to put up with that rule," he smiled.

This tie against Glasgow provides him with a chance to prove not only that he can become indispensable in Europe, but that others can be deemed less so.

"I'm excited for the opportunity, provided I can get a spot in the team," he says ahead of Glasgow's Saturday visit to the RDS.

"It would be a nice chance to put my best foot forward because there is a lot coming up."

Ireland's call will have to wait.

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