It was England coach Eddie Jones who suggested there was no such thing as a second-choice replacement in Test rugby, only starters and finishers.
As a player set to make his 54th Ireland appearance but only his ninth start, the Jones mindset may well appeal to Sean Cronin.
That the Leinster hooker must vie for the Ireland No 2 jersey with national team captain Rory Best may reinforce what Jones considers an outmoded concept of first and second choice, and Cronin is understandably eager to make the most of the sporadic chances to start, such as this evening’s Dublin Test against Canada.
Yet he is philosophical about the role he offers to his head coach Joe Schmidt from the bench and aware that when asked to fulfil it, he must be just as clear about the job assigned to him as any starter.
So while he regards tonight’s game as “a massive opportunity”, Cronin added: “I suppose you could flip it around and say it’s maybe gotten me into a few squads, when there is pressure and competition.
“Rory’s there, he’s the captain, he’s the leader, but what I can offer off the bench has maybe gotten us into squads before.
"Obviously, I want to get that two position, and the best way to go about that is to get things right when I get that opportunity, like this weekend. Then when it comes to asking the coaches about ‘why aren’t I getting selected?’ at least the pressure is on him.
"That’s all I can do.”
That Cronin has remained a go-to member of Schmidt’s squads for so long — he brought the hooker to Leinster from Connacht in 2011 — is a testament to the 30-year-old’s work ethic and commitment to meet his coach’s legendarily exacting standards.
“He’s a top quality coach, he’s proven that and yeah, he just brings this intensity, he knows what he’s looking for and you’ve either got to deliver or you’re not going to be in here too long.
"It is enjoyable to work with and once you get up to the speed of what he’s looking for — because if you don’t, you’re not going to last too long — it’s enjoyable then once you get up there.”
So Cronin will keep on keeping on, with plenty of ambition still to satisfy.
“I think there’s a bit more to be got there, hopefully there’s a few more years I’ve got left and that’s the good thing, I think I’m a driven person and I’d like to get better and push on for bigger and better things.
"Just put in the performances and try and put pressure on in terms of selection and future squads.”
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