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Reaction Of Teammates Says Everything About Andrew Conway's Journey To Today

Reaction Of Teammates Says Everything About Andrew Conway's Journey To Today
By Michael McCarthy

In 2010, a 19 year old winger was the talk of Leinster rugby. Andrew Conway didn't have to spend very long in the Leinster Academy. They knew they had something special. The likes of Shane Horgan were looking over their shoulder at the next big thing.

It didn't quite work out that way. Today, Conway earned only his 16th Ireland cap. It's more than most get, but at 28 years old, the now Munster player had to wait longer than any of us expected to be front and centre in a glorious day for Irish rugby.

From the outset, the winger looked Ireland's most dangerous player. His try in the second half was a perfect culmination of an outstanding performance. The reaction of his teammates Johnny Sexton and Conor Murray said it all about his display and his journey to get there.

The decisions he has made to get himself to this point speak to an impressive character.

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Some in the position of a schoolboy superstar can fade away, blaming injuries, coaches, and other factors for not making it. Conway took the tough call to move to Munster in 2013 where the competition in the back three was less fierce than in his home province.

Once there, he has talked about dissecting his game from top to bottom, focusing on his weaknesses. Reinventing his game, he has become a key figure in the Munster backline in recent years, and has been involved in Ireland squads for the last four years without ever fully nailing down his place.

In 2017, Conway made his Ireland debut, replacing an injured Keith Earls in Ireland's famous win over England, robbing England of a grand slam. He impressed, and was part of the squad going forward. His performance in a drubbing of South Africa that November created an assumption he would get a fair crack of the whip in upcoming teams.

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Again though, the progress stalled somewhat. His performances for Munster continued to impress, but the form of Earls and the emergence of Jacob Stockdale and Jordan Larmour kept him down the order. Ahead of squad selection for Japan, many pundits opted for the versatility of Will Addison over the Munster man.

Conway could've been the odd one out again. Instead, Joe Schmidt stuck him and injuries finally worked out in his favour.

Today, Andrew Conway put his hand up and took his chance. Keith Earls will no longer be an automatic selection. He's the player in form, and display today was his best in a green jersey.

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He ran for 40 metres in just six carries, had two clean breaks, and beat three defenders, the most on the Irish team. The stats don't tell the whole story though. He was comfortable under the high ball, and was eager to counter attack. His defence was solid, his kick chase superb, and his quick thinking and beautiful ball skills turned a midfield Scotland turnover into a counter attack that resulted in Ireland's third try. And that's all before his try.

When he scored, securing Ireland a bonus point, Murray and Sexton nearly took his head off in celebration. This was a fitting reward for an outstanding performance, and his teammates knew it. It's a lot of hard work, and a lot of setbacks. A lot of missing out on 50/50 calls. Today was the reward. He earned his jersey today. It'll be some job tro take it off him.

 

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SEE ALSO: Joe Schmidt Provides Update On Condition Of Aki And O'Mahony

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