Duffy happy to share Connacht leadership
Fullback can see benefit of sharing captaincy with Swift and Muldoon
Gavin Duffy: ‘There’s a leadership group below that, where the guys take responsibility for different areas; then there are the three captains’. Photograph: Huw Evans?Inpho
A fractured jaw didn’t stop Gavin Duffy from lending his voice to the Mayo chorus at Croke Park on Sunday. The 31- year-old Connacht captain – well, he’s one of three players who’ll share the duties – may be a professional rugby player but his bloodlines can be traced to Gaelic football stock.
The Ballina native played minor for Mayo in 1998 and again in 1999, when losing the All-Ireland final to Down.
He understands what a senior All-Ireland would mean to the county but smiles as suggests that no one is prepared to discuss it.
“People are just willing to say that we are in a final now and we have a chance. There’s no one going around proclaiming that we are going to win it for fear they’ll jinx the team. There’s been enough heartache in the past.”
Duffy’s jaw injury is down to a training accident. “I missed a tackle. I tried to scramble and a boot went up into my face.” So is he winning to name and shame? He laughs.
“It was Matt Healy. In fairness, he knew nothing about it. He came in to training the next day and asked me what happened to my face.
“It was an innocuous incident. I’ll be out for a couple of weeks. ”
It’s perhaps just as well new coach Pat Lam and the senior players decided on a new captaincy structure. Duffy, who had fulfilled the role for the past two seasons, will now share the remit with Michael Swift and Johnny Muldoon.
“It’s a bit different, I suppose. I can see the benefits of it. There’s a leadership group below that, where the guys take responsibility for different areas; then there are the three captains. I have been captain for the last two years so I know how important it is to have a good structure below you.
“It’s certainly not about rousing speeches. There are others who have those leadership qualities.
“Nathan White captained Waikato, Craig Clarke captained the Chiefs (to Super 15 glory) and Dan Parks was an international captain . . . . it’s great there is more responsibility being shared around.”
Lam’s arrival from Auckland has given the province a fresh energy and a new voice.
Duffy explained: “It’s only natural that given Pat is from the other side of the world that he has a different style to Eric (Elwood). It’s the same game but he (Pat) has a slightly different view on how to play it.
“It’s been very refreshing, not just for me but the other guys coming through to see another way of playing the game.
“At the moment it’s nice and sunny and it’s summertime; but Pat realises the weather won’t be like that come winter. It’s about finding the best way to adapt and play a game that offers a heads-up style but one that takes into account the conditions.
There is a different emphasis in terms of the game-plan.”
So has Lam experienced a Galway monsoon?’ Duffy smiles: “He experienced a thunder and lightning storm. After five minutes he said, ‘Right, we’ll cut it there.’
“We were smiling and saying, ‘Pat, it’ll be a long season if we’re cutting training because of the weather.’ Mind you, it was pretty severe and we had been out there for an hour, so it was fair enough.
“Pat has a different view on how to break down defences. He has different man management skills to Eric. Eric challenged us in his own unique way. Pat has done it too, with a different set of demands.
“He’s brought the academy guys in from day one and they view it as a clean start. Pat doesn’t know them, doesn’t know their strengths and weaknesses.
“They have something to pitch for in the first game against Zebre. It’s great to have that competition.”
Meanwhile Munster should confirm a squad for Friday’s second pre-season friendly against London Irish at Musgrave Park (7pm) today.
There’ll be an update on Andrew Conway, who limped off with an injury after scoring a try on his debut.