In 2010, the next big thing in Irish rugby was Andrew Conway.
Two Junior Cups and one Senior Cup medal with Blackrock, Conway was a part of a star-studded school's side captained by Jordi Murphy. He then joined an Ireland u-2o World Cup team hosting the likes of Rhys Ruddock, Dominic Ryan, Simon Zebo, Noel Reid and Eoin Griffin. He was a sensation at the Junior World Cup, most memorably landing a hat-trick against Scotland.
He soon signed a professional contract with Leinster in 2010.
However, then the underage flier stagnated. He left Leinster for Munster in 2013 and failed to graduate into the Irish senior set-up. In 2017 he turned 26 and finally got his chance in an Irish jersey, coming off the bench against England during the last Six Nations.
Last Saturday, Conway was exceptional during Ireland's 38-3 win over South Africa. Speaking to the Irish Times afterwards, he highlighted the shift that got his career back on track:
Two or three years ago there was probably a shift in mindset. I always trained hard and did my weights but I probably didn’t have the holistic side of it where I broke down my game and got in touch with coaches and put a plan together to do extras and try and improve in loads of different facets.
Over the last few years Conway has become a stalwart at Munster, operating as a regular at full-back or on the wing. He credited the coaching he has received at Munster as a major reason for the upturn in his game.
So it wasn’t that I wasn’t committed to it before. I just added a few different pieces to it the last few years. I try to train as smart as I can and hard as I can on a weekly basis. A few extra passing sessions, do some high-ball stuff with Felix (Jones) and kicking, stuff with Jacques ( [Nienaber) D-wise and just being really consistent with it.
It's great to see the improvement in Conway's game as Munster will need it more than ever. Simon Zebo has announced his intention to depart the province next summer leaving a void at full-back and Keith Earls' current injury issues present a chance for Conway with Ireland and a responsibility with Munster.
The form that made him a schools star and incredibly promising prospect looks to have returned.
You can read his comments in full on the Irish Times.