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'It was nice to see what it takes to win a Grand Slam': Munster set to benefit from Arnold's Ireland experience

The young centre was a regular in Joe Schmidt’s camp through the Six Nations.

MUNSTER CENTRE SAM Arnold says he cannot believe how rapid his ascent has been into the Ireland squad and believes training with Joe Schmidt’s side will drive him to an even high level.

Arnold, 21, has only broken into the Munster team this season following his move from Ulster in the summer of 2016, but after an injury nightmare in his first season he has benefited from the misfortune of his teammates this time round.

Injuries to Jaco Taute and Chris Farrell have eased Arnold’s transition into the Munster team and he has urged the fringe squad members to be ready for when their chance appears.

“I think if you had said it to me at the start of the season, I’d probably have laughed in your face and walked off. For me personally, it’s been great to get that experience in (Ireland) camp and be in the squad for the last two games,” said Arnold.

Sam Arnold and Garry Ringrose Next up: Ireland's centre injuries floated Arnold right up the depth chart during the Six Nations. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

“It was nice to see what it takes to win a Grand Slam and the work that goes behind it. From here on out for me it’s about focusing for Munster. The next few weeks are massive for us and they will signify how the season will end up come May.

“As a rugby player there’s rarely a time when you’re 100% fit. They’re usually something that you have to rehab that you have to manage and play with and get it right. It’s part of the game we play, it’s so physical nowadays.

For most teams in the league at this stage of the season there are injuries. I think maybe for us they are more senior guys, probably more so than other year. But at the same time it’s a great opportunity for young guys to try and make that step up and see where they really are.”

It is likely that Arnold will be paired with Rory Scannell – if he shakes off a shoulder knock – for next week’s Champions Cup quarter-final with Toulon at Thomond Park. Chances are that they will come up against the daunting duo of Malakai Fekitoa and Mathieu Bastareaud, but the prospect is unlikely to concern the confident youngster.

And with four key Pro14 points up for grabs this Saturday against Scarlets, Arnold is hoping his side can rediscover their winning form after a disappointing showing at Murrayfield last weekend.

“We have had guys who stepped in before and they have managed to do a job. But this is the crunch part of the season and if the wheel are going to get going, they have to start going now this weekend, 100%.

Sam Arnold Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

“For us as a team, obviously we know it has to kick on from now but we can’t look any further than Scarlets this weekend. They beat us at home last year and then they beat us in the final in the Aviva as well. We know what to expect, they’re an awesome team and will be a massive challenge but one we’re very excited for as well.

“We know ourselves what we put on display at the weekend wasn’t acceptable but we have the perfect chance this week to set it straight and hopefully build a bit of momentum going forward.”

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Declan Rooney

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