'You have to be a little bit disappointed': Craig Gilroy staying sharp in case Ireland's call comes

After eight weeks in an international setup, it’s difficult to head back to Pro12 duty.

Gilroy makes a burst past 19-year-old centre Sam Arnold in Ulster training.
Gilroy makes a burst past 19-year-old centre Sam Arnold in Ulster training.
Image: Presseye/Brian Little/INPHO

THE WORLD CUP is looming large over every other rugby match being played across the globe this month. So spare a thought for players who were close enough to taste the big dance only to be locked outside.

Ulster wing Craig Gilroy pretty much fits the description of a perfect student under the headmaster of Joe Schmidt. He’s energetic, forever focused, obsessed by stats and marginal improvements yet when it came time for  Schmidt to pick up after and deliver the bad news, Gilroy’s number on the list.

The disappointment of having to settle for a 108th Ulster cap rather than build on his six for Ireland comes across clearly as Gilroy tells The42 about how his mindset has changed four years on from the last World Cup:

“It’s funny to look at the contrast. Last (World Cup) I was probably really happy that guys like Trimby would be away and I’d get the chance to step in, but this time I was really hoping to be involved.

It is disappointing, but I suppose you have to be a little bit disappointed at times and let that set in. But it’s not something you want to dwell on…”

There is no sports psychologist helping him through, he doesn’t need a squad leader putting an arm around his shoulder. Despite his relatively young age, the 24-year-old is confident in the wisdom he has amassed himself.

“I’ve over a hundred caps for Ulster now and I’ve been playing professionally a couple of years. I suppose I know how to deal with it better now than when I was a youngster. Everyone’s different, people deal with things in different ways.”

Craig Gilroy is tackled by Sam Davies Source: Presseye/Darren Kidd/INPHO

Getting on with the immediate tasks at hand will keep Gilroy progressing and Saturday’s trip to face Scarlets is another opportunity for Ulster to keep on the front foot through the international period following Friday’s bonus-point victory over Ospreys.

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The intense competition in Ireland’s back three is Ulster’s gain as Neil Doak has been able to select the familiar faces of Gilroy, Andrew Trimble, Louis Ludik, Paul and Luke Marshall in a back-line that allowed Stuart McCloskey grab the opening night headlines.

“We’ve been lucky (in that respect). We’ve got some key guys away at the World Cup, but at the same time we’ve got some experience and great attackers left as well. Hopefully we can use that to our advantage and go in to that two-week break with two wins under our belt.”

For eight or nine weeks I was down (training) with Ireland. I was disappointed not to get a run, but pre-season itself was massively valuable to me. I felt I learned a lot being in that environment for so long and I came back a better player - it gave me a chance to bring back a little bit of what we learned down there and a little bit of that high standard and expectations with me.”

Good things come for bearers of high standards and few push themselves to improve quite as much as Gilroy.

“For me it’s about picking myself up and I’m looking forward to some big games with Ulster to try and put in some good performances. Then, If I’m called upon to come in, I’ll be ready to go.”

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About the author:

Sean Farrell

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