Paddy Butler’s feet remain firmly planted on the ground despite the praise which followed his dramatic last-minute try which snatched a Guinness Pro12 win against Cardiff last month.
The 23-year-old Tipperary man knows the challenge he faces to dislodge the current established back-row trio of skipper Peter O’Mahony, Tommy O’Donnell and CJ Stander in his quest for big-game time with Munster.
Even then, there others, including Rob Copeland, who may be ahead of him in the pecking order. “It is a very competitive sector in Munster,” Butler agreed. “I think there are eight or nine of us in the squad. If you have one bad game, it puts you back a step. Obviously that try in Cardiff was a big boost and I was delighted to get it. In fairness, though, it was a team effort. We dogged out a win but that showed the character in the squad.”
Now Butler hopes to follow the example of Dave Foley, who earned his first cap against Georgia on Sunday and with it the man of the match awards.
“Another Tipp man, it is brilliant,” glowed Butler.
“There were a few before him, Quinny (Alan Quinlan), Leams (Denis Leamy). It gives you encouragement to know that you are never too far away. Up to six months or so ago, I was probably at the same level as Dave. A week is a long time in rugby, so play as well as you can when you have the opportunity.”
Butler has mixed views on the three-week break between the Cardiff game and Friday’s visit to Newport. After all, he was the hero of that Arms Park game but the lustre of his achievement could have worn off.
“I think everyone who hasn’t been in the squad for the bigger games looks at the international break as an opportunity,” he reasons.
“So this is the chance to put our hands up. You have to take that chance in a team like this so everyone is focused on the job now, nailing down the detail early in the week so we can go out there and play with aggression, the way we play best and get a good result in Newport.
“I think they are targeting this match. They have been talking it up in the papers. They will be raring to go.”
Dragons skipper Lee Byrne and Ian Gough have both undergone shoulder surgery. Joining them in rehab is hooker Rhys Buckley who has also undergone surgery for a chest injury. A Dragons statement said: “They are all set to return in the New Year.” Matthew Screech and Hallam Amos are fit and could face Munster.
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