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Scannell is happy to skip the sunshine after his stormy spell

Big chance: Niall Scannell is keen to stake his Irish claim
Big chance: Niall Scannell is keen to stake his Irish claim

By Ruaidhri O'Connor

Niall Scannell's cancelled holiday plans are a touchy subject, but when Ireland's call came he couldn't turn it down.

Initially brought into the squad as an extra body for training in the week before departure, the Munster hooker is now starting the pivotal second Test after replacing injured captain Rory Best in the travelling squad.

The sun lounger can wait, this is an opportunity he couldn't pass up having had an injury-disrupted season.

His last cap came off the bench in Tokyo 12 months ago, and when he finished that tour he'd have been forgiven for feeling confident about his place in the Irish pecking order.

However, his momentum was checked by a series of unfortunately-timed injuries, so he is desperate to stake his claim.

"Rory has the jersey at the moment; he is the skipper and the rest of us are fighting for that second spot," he said.

"I thought I had a good summer in Japan and America, but this season didn't break for me and I didn't get a flow of games.

"It has been a frustrating season for me with injuries. Thankfully I haven't had any big injuries but I seem to keep getting knock after knock after knock.

"I have fallen out of that hunt a small bit, but since I got here I have just tried to knuckle down and get on the same wavelength as everyone. Now, thankfully, I have been given a chance, I just have to grab it."

Although it's been almost a year, Scannell knows what it will take against formidable opposition as Ireland look to level the series with a win in Melbourne.

"They bring you to a dark place, and that's brilliant, I am relishing that," he said. "You are going to be tested and you are going to come out of it knowing more about yourself as a person as well as a player."

Belfast Telegraph


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