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'It doesn't get much bigger than this. I can't wait for it'

Dave Kilcoyne is savouring every second of his World Cup experience.

DAVE KILCOYNE IS earning a reputation as an explosive impact player off the bench for Joe Schmidt’s Ireland, but the loosehead’s red-hot form means he’s pushing Cian Healy all the way for the starting berth. 

Kilcoyne enjoyed an impressive pre-season block with Ireland and continued that form into last Sunday’s World Cup opener against Scotland, as he came on for Healy in the second half to win his 32nd cap.

dave-kilcoyne Kilcoyne at the Yumeria Sports Grounds, Shizuoka. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

The Munster man’s performances for club and country saw him surge ahead of Jack McGrath in the loosehead pecking order, and his rampaging shifts in green mean Healy is nervously looking over his shoulder.

Ahead of Saturday’s Pool A clash with hosts Japan, 30-year-old Kilcoyne hopes his form earns him a starting opportunity in Shizuoka. 

“Yeah, hopefully,” he says. “That’s a great compliment from Cian. I thought he played excellent at the weekend. 

“That competition right throughout the squad pushes everyone and that’s what the squad needs if we are to keep progressing in this competition. The more lads you have chomping at the bit and giving coaches headaches the better for Irish rugby.”

Upon his arrival in the 49th minute, Kilcoyne not only helped Ireland maintain their dominance against the Scots at the set-piece, but alongside Rory Best and Andrew Porter, earned a big penalty against the head.

“We try to fit in first and all credit to the subs, I think they did that, they acquitted themselves well when they came on,” the Limerick native continues.

“The first-half performance, I thought lads put in an excellent shift especially up front, in the set-piece and around the fringes. The carries, Tadhg’s try, the other try – it was a case closing out the game by the time we got on, and we’re happy to do it.”

Kilcoyne is playing some of the best rugby of his career and is clearly enjoying and relishing the opportunities coming his way, with the prospect of a first World Cup start against Japan next on the agenda.

“I suppose that’s the beauty of a competition like the Rugby World Cup. It’s most fellas’ dreams and aspirations as a young fella growing up to be playing in a competition like this,” he smiles.

dave-kilcoyne-after-the-game Kilcoyne played 30 minutes last Sunday. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

“To be playing the host nation on Saturday, it doesn’t get much bigger than this. So I can’t wait for it.

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“I’ve had a lot of family getting on to me. I have a couple of cousins coming out, actually, to the next two games. My parents were watching it. Obviously, they’ve been on to me. I’ve been on to the Munster coaches. You get a sense of the togetherness — the country is getting behind Ireland at this competition and it’s great to hear.”

As for Saturday’s opponents, Kilcoyne offers: “We were very impressed with their performance against Russia. We’ve actually toured here two years ago and played against them. So we know exactly the threats they have. I thought they were phenomenal against Russia.

“They have threats right across the park. They play a very quick game, so we’re going to have to deal with that tempo. They probably don’t kick as much as many teams. We’re expecting very hot weather. So it’s going to be tough for us.”

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Ryan Bailey

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