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Dublin: -2°C Thursday 15 April 2021

'You always want more, don't you? I'd love to be touching 100 caps'

Dave Kilcoyne is looking to make up for lost time with Ireland.

Ireland loosehead Dave Kilcoyne.
Ireland loosehead Dave Kilcoyne.
Image: Billy Stickland/INPHO

THERE WASN’T EVEN 10 minutes on the clock when Dave Kilcoyne trudged off the field in Munster’s first game back after the lockdown last August, yet there he was, taking a seat in a treatment room and staring at an ankle injury that would ultimately keep him out of action until Christmas.

He didn’t have to look too far to find some sympathy, with debutant RG Snyman also suffering a long-term injury in the opening stages of the same game against Leinster.

“We trained together up to that and he looks unbelievable at training,” Kilcoyne says.

“We’d seen him at the World Cup, seen what he can do, the energy he brings around the place, he’s just a world-class athlete and when I was coming off after seven minutes I just looked at him and we were just like, ‘this isn’t right’. 

“Look, that’s just the way professional sport is.”

Kilcoyne’s injury proved more problematic than first feared, leading to surgery in October which kept him out of the autumn internationals, stalling the momentum gathered across a superb 2019 which he had carried into the early months of 2020.

“It’s obviously very frustrating,” he says of watching on from a distance.

“Part of you, you’re cheering the lads on, you know, the other lads you train with and play with week in, week out, so you obviously want the best for the team.

“There’s a world class coaching ticket in there at the moment and you just want the best for the team going forward so you want to get back into an incredible environment, which it is in here.

dave-kilcoyne-with-will-rowlands Kilcoyne featured off the bench in the opening round loss to Wales. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

“So it’s frustrating but it creates hunger and you need to latch onto that hunger and that gets you through then, you know, early morning rehabs, those long days in training, so that’s the way it’s been for me.”

Kilcoyne has spent his international career in the shadow of two Lions looseheads in Cian Healy and Jack McGrath. That in itself could be deemed another source of frustration. 

The Munster prop has amassed 40 caps since making his Ireland debut over eight years ago, but just eight of those have been starts.

That’s not to say he hasn’t made his presence felt, with Kilcoyne providing huge impact off the bench in recent years, particularly with his ball-carrying ability. 

Of course he’d prefer to have being doing that more regularly, and he wouldn’t have minded seeing his name in the first XV a few more times, but he’s not bitter about the opportunities that didn’t come.

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“Well you always want more, don’t you? I’d love to be touching 100 caps, you know?” he continues.

“So it is what it is, I’m not going to dwell on that. I’m going to be looking forward to the weekend and trying to make my mark on the game if selected, and hopefully there’s a lot more caps there for me.”

Having turned 32 in December, he doesn’t see much point in looking too far down the line.

“There’s always chat about the World Cup. I just think it’s madness sometimes looking that far ahead in rugby.

“Even that first game back with me and RG, after seven minutes you’re gone. It’s something that you can’t control, a freak injury, so I think if you’re looking towards World Cups sometimes, you’re taking your eye off the ball.

“International rugby is very much week on week, you’ve got to leave that to the coaches. They obviously have their plan in place, they’ve got a plan, they’ve got a succession plan with lads they want to see in and out.

“But for the players, if you’re looking at a World Cup well then you’ve lost the moment there. You’ve just got to be fully focused on the weekend and on your job because it’s too important and it comes at you too quick.”

Kilcoyne will hope to impress against Italy this weekend as Ireland look to pick up their first win of the campaign. Despite underwhelming performances against Wales and France, Kilcoyne says the squad fully believe they are working towards something positive under Farrell.

“We have a huge belief in the squad that we’re really building something here,” he continues.

“I wasn’t playing in the France game, but looking at the first half of the Wales game, there was some really good passages I thought where I thought our phase shape was very good and these are things the whole squad has belief in.  

“People are talking about that France team being one of the top teams in the world and it was a one-score game. I think Ireland are doing a lot of good stuff and we fully believe in the game-plan here.

“Yeah, there are definitely things we want to progress in our game. Faz and all the coaches, they back us to play, they back us to back ourselves to make decisions on the pitch and I think we’ve a squad here who are getting to that level that can fulfil that.”

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