Conway reaps the reward for consistency

Munster winger Andrew Conway hopes to make up for lost time after making his first start for Ireland on Saturday.

Conway, 26 next month, made his debut off the bench at half-time in the 31-9 Six Nations win over England in March.

And he finally made his first start when he picked up his second cap in Saturday’s 50-22 win over Japan in Shizuoka.

The former Leinster man, who dotted down 13 tries in 16 appearances for the Irish U20s, said that players have to be playing and performing for their clubs on a consistent basis to be considered for international selection.

“In his case, he had to break into the Munster side after moving south four years ago.

“You know you’re going to a club like Munster, and unless you’re signing as a big international star you’re going to have to earn your spot.

“I knew that was going to be the case that I probably wouldn’t be straight into the first team and straight into Ireland squads.

“So I just had to bide my time. But it made me reflect deeply on what I needed to do to gain an edge. I concentrated on working on my mental preparation, having a holistic thought process before games. It was not just a case of rocking up in training and playing a match.

“For me, I’ve now made it, it sounds weird, but my whole life from morning to night, I’d be writing stuff down, little affirmations that you can go back to, reflecting on your day in terms of what you could do better.”

The former Blackrock College star was more than willing to roll up his sleeves and get stuck in and his reward came first in the red of Munster before Joe Schmidt came calling.

“I wasn’t at a level that was required for an international player, on a consistent basis. You can perform one week for Leinster or Munster all you want, but if you’re dropping off the following week, and you’re below par, then you’re not showing the consistency Joe needs for you to play five games in seven weeks in the Six Nations or a World Cup or go on a three-test tour.

“It’s probably a mix of things, I haven’t been too unlucky with injuries, I had one operation, but a few little niggles that slowed my momentum at times which weren’t ideal.

“It’s taken me a while to get to where I want to be, mentally more so than physically, and ticking the right boxes and finding out what works for me and gives me my edge.”

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