Ireland’s Darren Cave buzzing after stepping into the limelight

‘To get my first cap, to get 80 minutes and the win it’s a day I’ll never forget and I just want to cherish it,’ says debutant Robbie Diack

Ireland’s Paul O’Connell, Felix Jones and Robbie Diack after the after the win over Argentina at the Estadio Centenario, Resistencia. Photo: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Ireland’s Paul O’Connell, Felix Jones and Robbie Diack after the after the win over Argentina at the Estadio Centenario, Resistencia. Photo: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Sun, Jun 8, 2014, 23:53

Darren Cave was positively buzzing. This was his sixth Irish cap, and his fifth start, but unlike the previous four on North American tours while Ireland’s front-liners were on Lions duty, this felt more like the real deal and, having tasted it, within half an hour of the full-time whistle he desperately wants more of the same next weekend.

“It’s pretty special for me, particularly those four games against the North American teams missing a few players. So it’s nice to play, and it’s nice to be in the changing room when Paul O’Connell is speaking. It’s nice to be outside Johnny Sexton. You saw that wraparound play that he runs so well, and it’s brilliant. I really enjoyed it and I think I learned a lot and I’d love the opportunity to do it again.”

A searing early break through the middle, which should have led to Conor Murray being awarded a try, and some strong carrying generally, left a good impression.

“I’m pretty chuffed with how it went to be honest with you. I got my hands on the ball . . It’s left me wanting more. I made a couple of small mistakes, as did everyone, and it just leaves me wanting to play next week and have another rattle at it.”

Hymn sheet

The Ulster centre sang from the same hymn sheet when lamenting the missed first-up tackles in the backline.

“It’s a sense of congratulate yourself on the result and already start thinking of how we’re going to improve our performance for next week. You can’t be annoyed. We won the game. They scored a try at the end. You could argue that they could have scored earlier in the game, but that last score always makes a difference to the scoreline. If they hadn’t got that try, you’d be saying it’s a pretty sound victory. But I think we’ve got a few things to work on. I think we’ll be better next week.”

This was only Jack McGrath’s second start and his first since last November.

“Absolutely delighted, especially against these guys. Scrum, maul and pack-wise in general they really want to go after you and for a prop it’s how you rate yourself as well. I really enjoyed it. It’s a long wait to get your second start but it’s just one of those things, you can keep working away and try to impress the coaches when you get your opportunity and hopefully we did that.”

“It’s just getting the confidence to be able to start, getting to 60 minutes, being able to have your second wind in the first half rather than coming in with 20 minutes to go and catching up with the game. Yeah, it’s definitely given me confidence coming into next week.”

For the previously uncapped Robbie Diack it had, he admitted, been a long week.

First cap

“Since I knew I was starting I have been preparing mentally and learning the calls, the structures and it’s been a long week and I’m just glad the afternoon came. I was happy with aspects of my game, but there are definitely things I’ll have to work on. But, to get my first cap, to get 80 minutes and the win, it’s a day I’ll never forget and I just want to cherish it.”

Johnny Sexton’s influence on this Irish team as its chief playmaker and points accumulator as well as leader, seems to become even more pronounced, and this extends to beyond the pitch or the training ground.

After winning his seventh cap, in what was an accomplished fourth start, Felix Jones revealed: “Johnny said before the game that it was massive for a lot of us who were still on single-capped figures and a couple of guys getting their first caps. . . not to let the standards drop from what was going on before and for everyone else to help us perform well. . . ”

“I thought a lot of guys were excellent. Zeebs was excellent, Robbie Diack was excellent in‘his first game, Jack McGrath obviously excellent. But having said there was area that we weren’t excellent in. . .”

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