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Conway hopes a Munster revival can lead to Ireland honours

The Dubliner has made a return to the wing recently after spending much of the season at 15.

ANDREW CONWAY STILL appreciates that his individual ability can change games, but the 24-year-old understands more than ever the importance of the collective.

The effectiveness of the team performance feeds back into the individual’s success, as Conway increasingly acknowledges if he wants to play for Ireland.

Munster’s Andrew Conway scores a try Conway was man of the match against Edinburgh. Source: Inpho/Billy Stickland

The pacy Munster wing/fullback has trained with Joe Schmidt’s national team a number of times, including during this year’s Six Nations, but still feels he is on the outside looking in.

Former Ireland U20 sensation Conway believes that Munster returning to successful ways next season would aid his cause greatly.

“I think the issue for players like Keith Earls and Conor Murray is that they are experienced 50-plus-capped internationals,” says Conway. “However bad or average Munster are in a season, even last weekend when we were seventh in the league, those lads are going to get picked [for Ireland].

It is the lads who are trying to make it [into Ireland's squad] that are at a stage where if the team is not playing well, and other provinces are playing well, then you can see from Joe Schmidt’s point of view that he is going to be looking at Connacht players first.

“They are playing well, they are winning. There is a buzz about Connacht at the moment. Those are the lads who are going to be moving on up and getting into camp.”

Conway stresses that playing for Ireland remains the peak of his dreams in rugby but says he doubts he will be called on for the June tour to South Africa.

His thoughts are instead occupied by helping Munster’s disappointing campaign to end on a positive note tomorrow as they face the Scarlets in Thomond Park [KO 3pm, S4C] looking to confirm their Champions Cup status for next season.

Andrew Conway 24-year-old Conway dreams of playing for Ireland. Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

They had a nervy bonus-point win over Edinburgh last weekend in which Conway starred as man of the match, scoring one try and setting up two others.

It was a prime example of an individual stepping up to the benefit of the Munster collective, something Conway knows will be important again tomorrow.

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“We can’t always look to CJ Stander, Murray or Earls,” says Conway. “It is the experienced lads who are performing week in, week out; that load needs to be shared. Hopefully, I can step up again.

Hopefully, 14 other players can step up and have their best game of the season too. That is what you are looking for. Obviously that doesn’t happen too consistently, where everyone has a great game, but that is what you are trying to do.

“If we can get 10 plus lads having their best games of the season, then you are in a good place.”

Conway – who felt he benefited from dropping to the bench against Connacht two weeks before the Edinburgh clash and therefore freshening up – has spent much of this season at fullback for Munster.

15 of the Dubliner’s 20 starts in this campaign have come in the 15 shirt, but Simon Zebo’s impression in that position for Ireland during the Six Nations has seen Anthony Foley favour the Corkman in the role more recently.

Andrew Conway Munster need another big game from Conway. Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

Conway has made his two most recent starts on the right wing for Munster and says he felt that move back to the edge was coming as he watched Zebo during the Six Nations.

“I was watching Ireland playing Italy and you see Zeebs play so well and then he played well against Scotland as well,” says Conway. “I knew himself and myself were the two options for the previous few months, so if I was to be a betting man watching those things I would have said that was going to be the way it was going.

As much as I was hoping he [Anthony Foley] was still going to go with me I was prepared for that to happen.

“I talked to Joe up in [Ireland] camp and he said he’d seen me as winger that can cover fullback so you take the positives from it and go ‘right, if that is going transfer me to hopefully put my hand up and get into those squads from the start for Ireland, then happy days’.

“I’ll try and finish the season well on the wing.”

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