NEW LEINSTER RECRUIT Jamison Gibson-Park has been impressed by the structures at the province since arriving fresh from winning the Super Rugby title with the Hurricanes in his native New Zealand this summer.
“In New Zealand, you grow up always wanting to play at the top level, and for me to get there and actually win it, was pretty awesome,” says the 24-year-old.
“I’ve played four or five years of Super Rugby, but I’m always looking for new experiences and new challenges, and this came up – it was pretty much a no-brainer for me.
“It’s a pretty awesome club. I had expectations coming here and they’ve probably exceeded it. I’m looking forward to the season.”
The scrum-half will be hoping to keep his place in the starting line-up, after coming off the bench in his first two games. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO
The Kiwi, who is now part of the IRFU’s succession planning at scrum-half, was given his first Leinster start in Friday’s 33-20 win over Edinburgh in the Pro12, replacing Luke McGrath, and scored his first try in the process.
“Showing up, I didn’t expect to walk into a starting spot.
“We’ve got a bit of depth here with Luke McGrath, who is a class player, and both Nick McCarthy and Charlie Rock are quite decent.
“In an environment like this, it is very healthy to have competition like we do. But I’ll play in whatever jersey I’m handed, whatever is best for the team,” Gibson-Park continued.
The Great Barrier Island man played his last game for the Hurricanes at the start of August, but has wasted no time in adjusting to life in the northern hemisphere.
“I’ve actually been in contact with Leo [Cullen] for pretty much the whole year.
“I don’t think there is whole lot of difference with the way Leinster play – it is a pretty positive brand of rugby, which is quite similar in New Zealand.”
It’s not just the attractive style of rugby played by Leo Cullen’s side that has caught the eye of Gibson-Park, but the overall quality of the teams in the Pro12.
And the eastern province will be looking to make a statement of intent, when they take on league leaders Ospreys at the RDS on Friday – the first team to take maximum points from the opening three rounds in the competition’s history.
“I think the quality of opposition [in the league] is pretty decent.
“Everyone speaks about the pace of the game, the difference between New Zealand and this side of the world – but I don’t think there’s a massive difference, especially playing on the artificial pitches, they sort of speed the game up a bit.”
Leinster endured a frustrating campaign last season, and will be hoping that they can use the test against Ospreys as a springboard to greater success at home and in the Champions Cup.
“It’s a very tough competition and there’s Europe as well, and I’m looking forward to a good year with the team.
“Ospreys are coming in looking pretty good, we are really looking forward to the challenge of seeing where we are at.”
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