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Gibson-Park concentrates on Leinster battle before worrying about Ireland caps

The 28-year-old scrum-half is heading into his fifth season with the province.

IT’S FUNNY HOW time can fly past us so quickly and Jamison Gibson-Park smiles as he’s reminded that he’s heading into his fifth season as a Leinster player.

“It has gone crazy fast, man,” says the scrum-half, who moved to Ireland from his native New Zealand in 2016 and has racked up 93 appearances for his province so far, winning a Champions Cup and a trio of Pro14 titles along the way.

Dublin is home for Gibson-Park now.

jamison-gibson-park Gibson-Park is heading into his fifth season with Leinster. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

“I’ve got a young family, so life for me is a lot different to a lot of these south Dublin lads living at home and that kind of craic,” says the halfback with another smile.

“It’s gone really good, my family has settled in really well and enjoyed every minute of it. Just getting started now, so here’s to a few more years.”

Gibson-Park has been Irish-qualified since last year and was included in Andy Farrell’s Ireland training squad last Christmas before missing out on making the 2020 Six Nations group.

While he has Test rugby ambitions, the former Blues and Hurricanes man underlines that “I’ve got to do work to get into the number nine jumper for Leinster, so that’s my main obligation.”

Luke McGrath has been first-choice for Leinster for the majority of big games since Gibson-Park arrived but some supporters felt the roles should have been reversed for the recent Champions Cup quarter-final defeat to Saracens. While McGrath endured a tough afternoon as the starting scrum-half, Gibson-Park again showed up well off the bench.

“Relatively happy,” says Gibson-Park when asked about his form since rugby’s restart.

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“Obviously, it would have been nice to get a result in the quarter-final and it doesn’t matter about individual performances. But in saying that, I’m relatively happy with where I’m at and looking forward to a new season which is upon us already.”

luke-mcgrath-and-jamison-gibson-park-celebrate-with-the-guinness-pro14-trophy McGrath and Gibson-Park have been vying for Leinster's number nine shirt. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Indeed, Leinster are straight into the 2020/21 Pro14 season from tomorrow night against the Dragons at the RDS, providing them with a chance to begin shaking off the frustration of that defeat to Saracens.

“Just the start of the game is a massive momentum thing,’ says Gibson-Park of the lessons learned two weekends ago. “We lost the first kick-off and I felt they were on top for the whole half.

“And the one thing you can’t do against Saracens is give them a good lead because they’re going to reduce the ball-in-play time and it becomes very difficult to find your way back into the game. We did play our way back into the game but it was too little too late, unfortunately.”

The 28-year-old stresses the need for Leinster to “turn the page” quickly with new challenges ahead and Gibson-Park is excited to see more young talents like Ryan Baird and Caelan Doris establishing themselves in the 2020/21 season.

“They just continue to churn out the talent,” says the scrum-half. “I think it’s massive for the younger guys looking at Bairdo and Doris, we get to see that in training.

“There is no doubt that over the next 12 months, you’re going to see another couple of names. You’ll have to wait and see.” 

About the author:

Murray Kinsella

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