The upcoming string of inter-pros in the ill-fated Rainbow Cup are the sort of fixtures Finlay Bealham’s parents would travel from Australia to see him play for Connacht in, but Covid has, of course, ruled that out.
Bealham was just 18 when he left Australia to take a long shot at becoming a professional rugby player and over the past decade or so his parents Andrea and Roy have been regular visitors and would have targeted these set of games.
But while they can’t travel to see their son play, they at least can enjoy all the freedom experienced by Australians after coming to terms with Covid.
“My mum and dad are in the Gold Coast in Queensland, about 45-50 minutes from Brisbane. They haven’t been hit too bad there,” said Bealham.
“They are walking around, no masks, kind of going in the shops, going in the casino, doing everything that mum and dad do, go on the beach and have coffees.
“Life is pretty normal there and I tell them we can’t even go out and sit in a restaurant and they just can’t believe it. It’s like a different world.
“These inter-pros games are the ones they would usually time their visits to watch so hopefully things are going in the right direction here now and we won’t be too far behind them,” said the 29-year old.
His maternal grandmother Sadie Ferris came from Enniskillen and the link with Ulster led to him coming to Belfast in 2010 when he failed to nail a spot on the Brumbies academy despite making the Australians schools A side.
His displays for Belfast Harlequins led to a call-up for the Ireland U20s and that in turn led to a place in the Connacht academy after being spotted by Nigel Carolan.
He has now amassed 155 appearances for Connacht and the last of his 14 Irish caps came against Georgia before Christmas.
The loosehead knows he’s not far off adding to that list and was called in by Andy Farrell as cover for the final two games of the Six Nations.
The inter-pros as part of the Rainbow Cup is an opportunity to keep his claim for further international honours alive, starting this Friday against Ulster at Kingspan Stadium.
“I came in as cover for the Scotland and England games. Of course, it is always in the back of your mind, performances that the Irish selectors would be watching and analysing but, to be honest, going into a game I’d be just worried about doing my best for the team and executing my role as best as I can.
“If we perform well as a team then more boys will get selected. It’s not about me running out and scoring ten tries and saying ‘pick me!’. It’s more about me just doing my job.
“I love the inter-pros, they are very fiery and very physical.”