The competition for places on both Munster wings is fierce enough that stellar talents like Calvin Nash must wonder if they will get a chance on the biggest days.
Nash had been knocking at the door for three years when the call finally came for the European Cup game against Ospreys last month.
Munster had already been eliminated from the knock-out stages so there wasn’t a lot at stake — but try to tell that to the close on 20,000 who turned up for a 1pm Sunday kick-off.
“I was quite fortunate that the two lads (Keith Earls and Andrew Conway) picked up knocks but it was a massive opportunity for me”, says the 22 year-old.
“Just making my European debut in Limerick was almost a dream come true. I was very happy and really enjoyed the game as well.
“It was an eye-opener of how good of a fan-base we have even though people knew we weren’t getting through. They still came out and supported us. Something like 19,000 or 20,000 showed up. The atmosphere was non-stop, it was electric, really good to play in.”
Nash was an outstanding schools player at Crescent Comprehensive and represented Ireland Schools before inevitably moving on to Munster. Speed combined with a keen footballing intellect ensured his success at the highest level and now with the arrival of Stephen Larkham as a skills coach, his confidence level has soared even higher.
“I have been learning a lot from him, just the different plays and his outlook on the game,” Nash mused. “Little things, like his running lines, to have a mental switch in my own head. Things that I would be looking out for that before I wouldn’t have thought of. I am enjoying learning his style of rugby and the way he wants to play. A lot of the lads are adapting really well to it. I think we have a lot left in us and I am really enjoying my rugby this year”.
The Nash family boasts an amount of natural rugby talent and now Calvin’s brother Brandon is captain of Crescent Comp Munster Junior Schools team and scored a fine try in their first round win over Bandon.
“It was my first time going to see him in a good while”, Calvin admits. “I was very impressed with him in fairness. Some lads would be saying he is better than me already but we will see.”
Nash believes the recent two-week long break after a thirteen 13 match stint will stand to the squad for the remainder of a season confined solely to the Guinness PRO14.
“PRO14 would lead to our qualification again for Europe”, says Nash.
We are constantly talking about a home semi-final. We really need to be winning these games and getting our bonus points. That would definitely be a big focus of ours now.
Nash has a similar build to Keith Earls and there are several similarities in their style of play.
“I grew up watching Earlsy so it is nice to play with him and learn off him”, he enthuses.
“He would be the model player. He has been Ireland’s No 1 winger for, I’m not sure how long, and he has played for the Lions. I have my own style of play but at the same time there is no point not admiring what he has done and the way he plays the game.
"He is constantly learning as well and probably has one of the best work-rates along with Conway to really adapt their game and improve as players, week in week out.
“I would model myself on both but at the same time I wouldn’t want to lose something that is the way I play myself.”