Eoin Reddan feels lucky to be in such a privileged place
Scrumhalf remains articulate, engaging and interesting as ever as he prepares to face Argentina
Eoin Reddan training with the Irish squad at the Universitario Rugby Club in Tucumán as they prepare for today’s second Test.
It was Sunday, November 24th, which absolutely confirmed to Eoin Reddan that he was in a good place. It was the day that Ireland played the All Blacks, and he had been left out of the match-day squad after starting against Australia. So Reddan returned to Leinster for the week and played away to Treviso the same Sunday.
He describes the skill level and intensity of the week’s training as “incredible”, and Leinster won 21-20. Despite missing out on the epic with New Zealand, he enjoyed that week thoroughly. “They’re the moments you know you’re in a good place and a good country. I don’t think many clubs could be missing that many players and the environment is still vibrant.”
Speaking for a good 40 minutes in the courtyard of the squad’s hotel complex on Thursday evening, Reddan remains as articulate, engaging and interesting as ever.
At 33, he reckons he’s had his best season with Leinster since returning to Ireland from Wasps in 2009. Mentally, he says, the game becomes easier. “You tend to make better decisions the more you’re exposed to them. Building a bit of tempo into the game has come easier the more I’ve played. You have to build it.”
Gym workBut at his age gym work and staying strong is key, and a broken leg last season, ironically, gave him a lengthy lay-off from which he returned fitter than ever. Matt O’Connor’s arrival at Leinster to supplement Joe Schmidt with Ireland has given him a great mix.
“Matt has worked with scrumhalves like George Gregan and Ben Youngs in the past, and I think I’ve got two pretty good coaches now. I’m not stupid. You’ve got to appreciate your surroundings. I’m enjoying it but I’m aware that I’m lucky to be in such a good club and such a good country.”
Like others such as Gordon D’Arcy and Brian O’Driscoll, Reddan is a huge fan of the Leinster coach. He cites the example of the Pro12 final against Glasgow. Leinster’s defence has improved under O’Connor, and in readying themselves for Glasgow’s offloading game he took training a step further by then working off the ensuing turnovers. “Two of our four tries came from turnovers.”
Meanwhile, Reddan remains as enthused as ever by Schmidt. “There are absolutely no grey areas in terms of what he wants so no one will ever be scratching their heads wondering why they haven’t been picked. They know. There’s no mystery to it. People know exactly what’s expected of them, 100 per cent.”
By contrastThis season he has played 22 games for Leinster, 17 from the start. By contrast, today’s second Test marks his only his second start for Ireland since the scrum debacle against England in the Six Nations finale of 2012.
His trademark speed to the breakdown and that rapid-fire service is as sharp as ever too, if not sharper, and backed by O’Connor to be a decision maker, he’s converting a higher percentage of snipes into breaks, all of which underlines his continuing value to the Leinster and Irish set-ups.
Yet 11 of his last 12 caps have been off the bench. “I’m a big believer in my role and whatever I’m selected to do that week, and I really zone in on what I’m doing,” he reasons. “If you treat that properly it runs right through the squad. Everybody does it, and it serves a very important purpose.”