In a sense, Jean Kleyn completed his journey with a Test debut for Ireland at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday, but the Munster lock is determined to stay forward-focused as he aims for a place in his adopted country’s World Cup squad next month.
Kleyn, who turns 26 two weeks today, made a strong start to his Test career with an impressive performance in the second row as Ireland ran out 29-10 winners over Italy.
Asked to describe his Ireland debut, the forward left little doubt that he feels right at home.
“It was an incredible feeling,” Kleyn said.
Kleyn’s 80-minute shift was interrupted by a brief trip to the blood bin for stitches on a cut over his left eye and he has managed to stay focused throughout his time in the Ireland pre-World Cup camp this summer as he closes in on a place in the final 31-man squad heading to Japan next month.
“The detail is immense. That is one of the things that makes us — I can say ‘us’ now — such a good team is the fact that we are so detail-focused and we get all the small things right and so big things work.
“It’s been a good journey for me. I suppose it’s been better than coming into a Six Nations camp because we have actually had a pre-season.”
Kleyn will need to be the best he can if he is to leapfrog some of his positional rivals for a place in the World Cup squad.
“That would be immense, playing for one of the best rugby nations in the world in the biggest competition. There is no greater achievement in rugby.
“As far as putting my hand up, I played as hard as I could and, hopefully, I have done enough. I will go back to the coaches and see what they have to say and correct everything they want me to correct. We will go from there.”
He will have a scar to show for it when those stitches come out.
“The doctors were saying it will make for a good story, ‘where did you get that scar?’,” he said.
“‘Playing my first cap for Ireland.’ It is a good story. It is one of those things. I am scarred up enough as it is. Another one doesn’t really change the landscape, you know.
“Fortunately, I already have a girlfriend.”