Skipper Jarrad Butler has had to deal with contrasting emotions in the Connacht changing room at the Sportsground this week as several members of his squad dealt with mixed news from the Irish camp.
Butler will become Irish qualified next summer and will come into contention for Andy Farrell if he continues the form he has shown in the past two and a half years since moving from Australia.
And while the likes of Ultan Dillane, Quinn Roux, Caolin Blade and Dave Heffernan received call-ups from Farrell for his first Irish camp, others such as Jack Carty, Finlay Bealham and Kieran Marmion had to deal with the disappointment of missing out.
Butler, who was appointed captain when Andy Friend took charge after a brilliant first season, has been helping players deal with the news as they prepare for a triple series of inter-provincials, starting tomorrow against Munster.
“We are pleased to have five guys in there. At the end of the day when you perform well as a team it usually gets highlighted with guys getting opportunities there. It was great to see guys like Dave Heffernan getting called in there but it can be disappointing for others as well.”
And he backed Carty to bounce back quickly from this omission.
“Jack works really hard on that mindfulness. He will definitely have something in place for it. He will just focus on his job because I think he knows when he is playing well that is when those opportunities come. There is still plenty of time and opportunities (for the Six Nations) particularly with these local derbies coming up now.
This is when you really get the chance to put your hand up against guys that you are competing with. It is tough for Kieran Marmion because he hasn’t been playing much at the moment and the same goes for Finlay.
“He was really good last weekend, it was probably the most physical I have seen him. He is starting to find some form now as well. He will be disappointed but we all know what he is capable of,” said the 28-year old back rower.
Butler said that players who have missed out need to follow the example of Dillane and Roux who put their World Cup omission behind them and produced big displays for Connacht which propelled them back into the international fold.
Butler said that their comeback win over Gloucester at the weekend has given them a spring in their step facing into the derby games and he knows there’s a lot at stake tomorrow evening.
“I appreciate this one because they are in the same pool as us and we are coming first and second. It is an eight or 10-point game. You can put yourself in a really good spot or put yourself under a bit of pressure there.
“I do understand guys may be playing against guys they might have grown up with, that you played schoolboys with, gone to school with, and things like that.”