IT HAS BEEN a long wait for Ulster wing Craig Gilroy to put back on the green jersey.
His last sojourn in the national team was in Declan Kidney’s last 6 Nations campaign in 2013, which started off with two young guns tearing it up on the wings – Gilroy and Simon Zebo – but finished with Peter O’Mahony filling in wide left in a loss to Italy as the injuries piled up.
Gilroy has had a frustrating time since then with the national team moving on without him but his recent renaissance at provincial level saw him called up to Joe Schmidt’s autumn squad.
The wing doesn’t know if he will be involved on Sunday against Georgia, but is looking forward to parking that Italian loss whenever he gets a chance.
“It’s been tough at times, but regardless of when the game was you put it to bed and look forward to whats ahead,” Gilroy said.
“I’ve been really looking forward to putting on the jersey again. It was the end of the Six Nations in Rome two seasons ago and after that, I played once against the Saxons.
“I played on the Emerging Ireland tour, which was a good experience and we did well. But, yeah, I’ve been longing to put the senior jersey on again.”
Joe Schmidt is well-known for his meticulous attention to detail but given the relatively low-profile of the Georgian squad, you might expect a little less information to be available to the players than usual.
But Gilroy says that nothing has changed in the Ireland coach’s preparation, and that the team have put the win against South Africa out of their mind ahead of this weekend.
Against Australia last year, many players said they weren’t in the right frame of mind to process the exhaustive information compiled for them by Schmidt. Those issues seemed to be eradicated ahead of last weekend and Gilroy says that while the Ireland boss is very well prepared, he doesn’t bombard the players with information.
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“I think Joe does a good job in giving us what we need to know, and at the same time putting an onus on us to do our own homework,” Gilroy said.
“I think it’s about getting the balance right and I think Joe does that.”
Inclusion in the team to face Georgia would be a nice reward for Gilroy after his rejuvenation in the Ulster team in recent weeks.
Gilroy has been in scintillating form for Ulster recently. Source: Presseye/Darren Kidd/INPHO
His running lines against Glasgow, Leicester and Toulon were reminiscent of his displays during his breakout year and while the wing acknowledged that selection would serve as a restart to his international career, he also pointed out how much he enjoyed it the first time.
“I suppose it’s a bit of a fresh start,” Gilroy said.
“At the same time, I don’t want to forget any of the times in the past, which I thoroughly enjoyed. I loved every minute of it.
“At the same time, it’s an opportunity for me to play again and I love the green jersey and playing in front of big crowds, bringing what I can give. Maybe that little bit of spark or something else.”
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