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Dublin: 11 °C Wednesday 20 February, 2019
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International cap remains the goal for Connacht stalwart Buckley

The Roscommon man has had to wait for his chance on the Test stage to come along despite excellent displays out west.

Buckley training with fellow Ireland hopeful Jack Carty this week.
Buckley training with fellow Ireland hopeful Jack Carty this week.
Image: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

CONNACHT PROP DENIS Buckley says that winning a first Irish senior cap remains a primary goal after pledging his future to his native province for another two years.

The Roscommon man has been part of Joe Schmidt’s extended squad in the past and, but a Test debut remains elusive for the loosehead who has twice been named in the PRO14 Team of the Year after a string of impressive displays.

The former Ireland U20 has never given up on his dream of making the breakthrough for Ireland and is hoping that consistent form for Andy Friend’s side will push him that bit closer to a senior cap.

“That is still my number one goal, to try and get some international caps. At the start of the year I was in camp with them and did reasonably well,” said the prop.

“In November there I spoke to Joe, I didn’t make it but I was close enough in the mix.

“I wasn’t as close with the Six Nations, (due to) missing one or two games over the Christmas period.

“And I didn’t play my best rugby for a game or two as well, which happens, but that is absolutely my number one goal. It’s a really good environment here to help me achieve that.”

The recent inclusion of the uncapped Connacht trio of Jack Carty, Tom Farrell and Caolin Blade served to remind Buckley and others than the step-up is not that far away, while Quinn Roux’s recall after initially being left out of the Six Nations squad and his appearances against England and Scotland also illustrated how quickly things can change.

Denis Buckley The prop will remain in Galway for at least another two years. Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

“It really is fine margins, I’ve seen that with Quinn Roux and other lads. They have got a really good environment here in Connacht to help us grow and achieve those goals.

“That was a big part in my decision to stay,” added Buckley, who was introduced to rugby at the Creggs club in Roscommon and has racked up 151 Connacht appearances to date.

Buckley said that signing a new two-year deal was not a difficult decision and he dismissed speculation linking him Ulster and Bristol where former Connacht coaches Dan McFarland and Pat Lam are in charge.

“For a while now it’s been more or less agreed with Connacht. There were just a few small things to tidy up which is the norm. It dragged on a little bit longer than I would have liked but I am really happy.

“As a squad we are in a really good place at the moment, a relatively young squad certainly in comparison to a lot of the other teams around. It’s a really close tight-knit squad as well.

“We have lost one or two lads this year, Conor Carey is going to be a big loss, and one or two others. For the most part there has been some really good retention done by Andy and the rest of his staff.

“It’s rugby so you are not going to be able to keep everyone always but they have done a really good job in keeping the majority of the squad together. Exciting times.”

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John Fallon

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