Connacht prop Denis Buckley has his sights set on an international call-up as he prepares for another massive season with the Guinness PRO12 champions.
The 26-year-old loosehead is in regular contact with Joe Schmidt and national scrum coach Greg Feek and is hoping to finally win his first cap this season.
Buckley has played 96 times for Connacht and was one of the leading members of their drive for the league title against the odds last season.
But the Roscommon native has failed to make the breakthrough with Schmidt’s side — a trend he hopes to change in the coming months.
“I met Joe a few times last year and had a few phone calls. He is brilliant, he is giving advice all the time. And the same with Greg Feek. I spoke with him a lot and he is helping me out with video work. They are trying to help me improve as a player which will hopefully give me the chance to go a bit further,” said Buckley.
“Consistently good performances are important. Playing well and not reaching that level the next week might be a problem.
“If you consistently perform to a high level and your team is doing well it’s very hard not to get picked. But there are little things in your game that you are always trying to improve; when you look at ball-carrying which probably wouldn’t be a strength of mine. Then you look at a strength of mine, which is the breakdown.
“So you want to keep improving those things and getting good at them, and the things you need to work on, just get them up a few levels as well.
“As a prop your main job is the scrum, provide a good set-piece in the scrum, and a good line-out. That’s something that I am looking to improve on as well.
“Hopefully, I can perform to a high level each week and keep it to that level. Back it up for a good few games in a row instead of one week and not reaching it again the next week. Those factors need to come together for me and then luck is another part of it.”
Buckley is a brand ambassador for Mazda Ireland’s continued sponsorship of Connacht Rugby for the new season.
Mazda have been the title and official car sponsor for Connacht Rugby over the last six years and they host another Mazda and Connacht Rugby Clinic at Carton House on October 9.
Buckley will be available to offer his guidance as he prepares for the beginning of the new campaign with Connacht, for the first time as reigning PRO12 champions.
They start their season at home to Glasgow this Saturday and Buckley is excited about what lies ahead.
“It’s nice to be PRO12 champions. It’s obviously a great achievement that we did last year. We have to take some pride in that, it’s a great achievement and not to forget about it. But we have to park it and everyone starts on the same points this season. It’s a great achievement but you have to park it and put in some good performances, good victories, and start building again.”
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