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'I think I changed Joe Schmidt's mind, which is hard to do'

Jamie Hagan told The42 Rugby Weekly Extra podcast about his ‘sliding doors moment’ at Leinster.

Jamie Hagan at Leinster.
Jamie Hagan at Leinster.
Image: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

JAMIE HAGAN HAS taken the road less travelled in his rugby career. From Balbriggan to Leinster to Connacht and back to Leinster before stints at London Irish, Melbourne Rebels and then settling at Beziers in 2016, the tighthead prop has had an adventure-filled time in the professional game. 

He’s content with his situation, thankful to make it this far and still be paid to do what he does – but there are “sliding doors” moments, where he considers whether he could have added to his one senior cap for Ireland. 

This is especially the case when he thinks about the time he managed to do something not many have achieved – change Joe Schmidt’s mind.       

“I’m where I should be,” Hagan told the The42 Rugby Weekly Extra – a podcast available to members of The42 every Monday and Wednesday, adding: “There’s definitely some moments where I go, ‘Ah, if I’d done that’.” 

He said: “There’s been a couple of moments, definitely. The moment where I signed for London Irish (in 2013) and I had a very frustrating time.”  

Hagan had started the previous season at Leinster “very well” following an indifferent year before that. 

“Players had come up to me and said, listen you’re training and playing way better. Michael Bent, a stalwart Leinster player, a great player, he came in ahead of me at Leinster, but then at the end of that season he didn’t have some good performances and I came back in. And I’d already signed for London Irish, and I remember Joe came to me in March and he was like, ‘Have you signed?’ and I said, ‘Yeah, I’ve signed two months ago’. He was like, ‘Is there any way you can get out of it?’ And I said . . . ‘I don’t think so’. 

“So there’s moments like that where you think, ‘God if I’d been a little more patient in that particular moment would I still be in Ireland?’ That’s a moment I always remember, especially him coming up to me, because he’s Joe Schmidt obviously. It’s one of these conversations where I went, ‘I think I changed this guy’s mind here’, which is hard to do.” 

Hagan’s first season at Leinster under Schmidt had been “tough”. Schmidt had told him at the end of the season that he could leave the province. The player, confused, replied that he had two years left on his contract. 

“Well,” Schmidt told him, “That’s my opinion basically.” 

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But by the end of Hagan’s second year with Leinster, 2013, his situation had changed entirely.   

“I had an amazing experience at the end, winning the Champions Cup and the Pro12. And then I went and played against America in the US of A and had my one and only cap for Ireland. So that’s probably a sliding doors moment where I go ‘Ooof, what would have happened there?’ But for the rest of my career predominantly I’m happy where I am. I’ve got to experience Australia, and then get to come to France. It’s been a weird old career but it’s definitely been interesting.” 

To get access to The42 Rugby Weekly Extra, which comes out every Monday with Gavan Casey, Bernard Jackman, and Murray Kinsella, as well as every Wednesday with Eoin Toolan, become a member of The42 at members.the42.ie.

- Originally published at 11.56

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