Whether it is facing the bright young things of English rugby or training against the likes of Johnny Sexton and Conor Murray, Ireland Under-20 fly-half Jack Crowley treats it with the same mantra: respect all, fear no-one.
It is an ethos drilled into the U20 Six Nations frontrunners by head coach Noel McNamara and has so far earned the Grand Slam champions maximum points from the opening two rounds.
Ireland have a stiffer challenge in England next Friday, and for the Cork Constitution out-half, 20, not even a training session with Andy Farrell’s senior squad at Musgrave Park on Thursday was blurring the Innishannon man’s focus.
“We have a thing in the 20s that we respect all but we fear no-one and I think that’s what we’ve shown over the last few weeks and even coming up against the seniors,” Crowley said.
“It’s an unbelievable opportunity to come up against these fellas who ideally would be your peers but once you go out on the pitch you almost forget, even with the Six Nations, that you’re playing a Six Nations game, you’re just playing another game.
“You kind of go into a little bubble, you’re just playing your game and it’s only after the game, or even after the training session or maybe later on in the week that you realise you were training with the seniors.
“That’s the benefit of playing in such a big bunch of lads, it almost normalises it because our standards are so high and we expect so much of ourselves that when we do get an opportunity to train with the seniors you don’t get dulled or amazed by it, you have a job to do and you’re there for a reason as well, as a team.
“So that was kind of our mentality going in. We weren’t there just to make the numbers, we were there to train against them and challenge them.”
For all that, Crowley is appreciative of the interaction with the senior fly-halves.
“Massive learning,” he said of this week’s camp.
“Coming up against Johnny Sexton and Ross Byrne. Even talking to them, understanding learnings, it’s just an unbelievably competitive atmosphere. You’re training against Irish seniors and can learn so much from them.
“By doing that, you can have the highest standards. Other teams in the U20s might not have that opportunity so we’re lucky to have this.”
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