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Dublin: 12°C Monday 17 May 2021

Darren Sweetnam has played himself into the mix for Ireland's November Internationals

Munster man catches Joe Schmidt’s eye and earns call-up to Ireland training camp.

Sweetnam: man of the match against Zebre.
Sweetnam: man of the match against Zebre.
Image: Billy Stickland/INPHO

FLYING WINGER DARREN Sweetnam was one of 10 Munster players called up to Joe Schmidt’s Ireland squad for yesterday’s camp at Carton House.

Sweetnam has been Munster’s standout player this season, has played every minute of their first five games and bagged his first try of the campaign in a man of the match display last time out against Zebre.

The Cork man was handed a last-minute call up by Schmidt as Ireland make their plans for facing the All Blacks in Chicago in a month’s time and could be a bolter for final selection if he continues to impress.

But five days out from the Pro12 derby against Leinster, Munster head coach Foley says there will be no animosity between players from both camps, who will be keen to out-shine each other at the weekend.

“I think if you go up to Carton House today, I guarantee you you’d see Munster and Leinster fellas sitting down having a cup of coffee together, having a bit of craic, sharing a joke and talking about the weekend,” said Foley.

“I don’t think within sport you have that level of hatred. I think when fellas tog out with each other, they are used to relying on each other and then tog out (against each other) on the park, there is a mutual respect there between both sides. They want to show how good they are against one another and make sure that fellas want to play with them.

It’s the same for all provinces so there is nobody going to benefit out of it. Nobody is getting one up on anyone.

“It is important, I suppose, that they are getting prepared as well for what’s in front of them. It obviously tees up the players that performances over the next number of weeks will lead them to getting into more squads. I think that benefits the province that they play with.”

Almost three months in to the new working structures at Munster, where Foley now reports into director of rugby Rassie Erasmus, the man who first lifted the Heineken Cup for the province says he is enjoying his new role.

Results have helped, with four wins from five pushing Munster into second place in the Pro12 standings, but both the players and Foley seem to be thriving with more time to work together on and off the training field.

“Yeah, I’m enjoying it. I’m looking forward to the weekends and getting out and seeing the boys play.

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“It’s great. Having other voices around the place who have different opinions is brilliant and hopefully it’s helping and will continue to.

There’s always pressure, there’s different types of pressure. It’s still about winning, it’s still about making sure that we get into the right positions for qualifying, so there’s always pressure.

And how has not being the main decision maker sat with Foley? It has always been a collective decision in picking teams, he says.

“It was the same last year. I don’t know what impression ye have but it is all of us sitting around the table and everyone has the same voice.

“Sometimes you have to go with what you don’t feel is right. That was eight years ago, that was five years ago, that was last year and this year.

“You sit around, people are employed to give their expert opinion and if you don’t listen to them at times, why have them there?

“Sometimes you go with what you believe, sometimes you strongly push something. Sometimes you go with what other people strongly believe and everybody works as a team,” Foley said.

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Declan Rooney

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