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John Cooney Opens Up On Being Cut By Joe Schmidt

John Cooney Opens Up On Being Cut By Joe Schmidt
By PJ Browne Updated

A fortnight ago, four days after Ireland's first World Cup warm-up game against Italy, John Cooney was one of three players cut from Joe Schmidt's squad ahead of next month's tournament in Japan. The other were Finlay Bealham and Mike Haley.

"I didn't know it was coming," Ulster scrum-half Cooney said regarding Schmidt's decision on this week's episode of The Rugby Pod.

I was actually watching the Gaelic football, the semi-final Tyrone were playing and my phone was on silent. I went to look at my phone about 10 minutes after the game and saw I had a missed call from Joe. Straight away, my first reaction was to scream and I knew well that I was going to be cut.

It was a bit of a surprise because I'd done fitness and gym all week because I wasn't playing against Italy. The week before, I thought I could be dropped but I wasn't. Then I thought I might play against England, I kept the head down and got to work that week. In that way, it was pretty upsetting that I didn't get to play a game.

I knew well once I saw the phone call off him that was it. I rang him back and he must have been on the phone to someone else, I had to wait about 15 or 20 minutes to call him back. It was a bit of a limbo at that stage. Once you get a phone call out of the blue, you know something is up.

The 29-year-old has eight caps for Ireland but has started just one of those games. That was last year's November international against USA. He went on to feature off the bench in this year's Six Nations games against England, Scotland, Italy and France.

"Personally, I would have liked to have played a lot more," said Cooney.

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"There are now two Italy games I've been involved in that I would liked at least to get a start, even off the bench the last day. That's what hurt me the most, that I didn't get a chance. I don't see why I didn't get a few minutes, even against Italy. I'm not sure why that is.

"Even against USA, I got the start, played average enough. You know that type of year where you are carrying a few niggles, I remember my AC was at me. Little hindrances that sometimes if you get one-off games, you don't get to make up for it.

"I thought I did quite well in the Six Nations, played four out of the five games. The year before, my goal was to play in one of the games and I didn't. To get four out of five the year after was huge for me. I thought I did quite well when I came on and obviously would have liked a bit longer but I actually haven't had a chance since then.

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"In one way, I'm pretty happy with how I went when I got my opportunity but it doesn't really do much for you when you don't get another go."

Photo by David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile

See Also: Conor Murray Feeling 'Good' After 'Scare' Against England

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