If Sean Cronin is to fulfil his accustomed role for Ireland this Saturday against Wales, it will mean the hooker will be coming off the bench for the 50th time in his long Test career.
It will be a 59th cap for the Limerick man and Leinster stalwart, but a 50th time named on an Ireland bench.
That has taken some adjustment over the years but Cronin, now 31, has learned to see the positives, not least the fact he is delighted to be back in Joe Schmidt’s squad after spending November on the outside looking in.
A neck injury at the tail end of last season left Cronin playing catch-up when the new campaign got underway, but the hooker has now returned to the fold as back-up to Ireland skipper Rory Best, in the Six Nations wins over France and Italy.
It is a role with which he is perfectly comfortable with after years of seeing it negatively.
“When you’re younger, you can’t really get your head around that. You maybe see yourself as ‘I want to be the starter’ and that’s all you have in your head. Then, you build up the experience of being involved in squads and being involved in really close games when you’re called in for the last 15, 20 minutes.
“You maybe turn your focus, that they’re putting their faith on you to come on and do well and provide the pressure moments that are going to contribute to the squad going well.
“The quicker that you can get your head around that and buy into that philosophy and be the squad and team player then the happier you’ll be in yourself and you’ll perform better, so, it’s probably an age thing and experience thing and just learning to deal with that.
“It’s something the coaches drive down as well onto players and then there’s nothing more rewarding than coming on with 10 or 15 minutes to go against France and you’ve learned your roles, you do everything right, you clean out the last ruck, back to Johnny, so, it has its negatives and positives, you’ve just got to find the positives in it.”
Some things are not so easy to let slide, though, with Cronin subscribing to the view put forward by England boss Eddie Jones that teams do not have replacements but finishers.
“I find it funny the way it says ‘finishers’ on (the England teamsheet). Good old Eddie. It makes a bit of sense doesn’t it?”
“I might have a word with the press guy here and see if we can put ‘finishers’ or something [on press releases].
“It really annoys me the fact that all the [starting] lads’ names are really big and then the replacements are tiny at the bottom.
“If the names were a small bit bigger, I’d be happier with that.”
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