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'I can say 'us' now': Kleyn thrilled with Ireland cap and prepared to improve again

The Munster second row was in an unshakably good mood after his international debut.

Kleyn stands tor the anthems in the Aviva Stadium.
Kleyn stands tor the anthems in the Aviva Stadium.
Image: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

“NOW I’VE GOT a missus from Galway and dogs that are from Buttevant, so I’d say I am becoming more and more Irish by the day,” jokes Jean Kleyn. But his Ireland World Cup credentials are a serious matter indeed.

The South African-produced Munster second row made his international debut for his adopted nation on Saturday just two days after officially becoming eligible under the old three-year residency rule.

Having been granted early release by the Western Province back in 2016, it would appear that his potential, power and close-range effectiveness has been on the minds within Irish rugby for quite a while. And it is now entirely conceivable that he could join the lock rotation with incumbents Devin Toner and James Ryan during the imminent World Cup.

“That would be immense,” Kleyn says of the potential trip to Japan, “playing for one of the best rugby nations in the world in the biggest competition. There is no greater achievement in rugby, really.

“As far as putting my hand up, I played as hard as I could and, hopefully, I have done enough.

“I will go back to the coaches and see what they have to say and correct everything they want me to correct. We will go from there.”

Newly inducted into Test rugby, it seemed that nothing could spoil Kleyn’s good mood on Saturday afternoon.

Not the fresh scar across his forehead…

The doctors were saying it will make for a good story, ‘where did you get that scar?“Playing my first cap for Ireland.”

… nor the prospect of Joe Schmidt’s infamous reviews.

To me, there were a lot of things I did wrong, a few things I did right too.“You know, I will go have a look at myself and then try to improve on everything I find fault with – which will probably be loads.”

Keith Fox treats Jean Kleyn Source: James Crombie/INPHO

After working through an intense pre-season camp in which he, more than most, will have been required to study hard in order to catch up on Schmidt’s methods, the 25-year-old was thrilled to make it to the international arena.

“The detail is immense. I suppose that is one of the things that makes us, I can say ‘us’ now, such a good team is the fact that we are so detail-focused. And we get all small things right, so big things work.

“It’s been a good journey for me. I suppose it’s been better than coming into a Six Nations camp because we have actually had a pre-season.

“Things have been sort of drip-fed instead of everything being lumped on you at the same time and being told to learn.

“It has been a more gradual process but it’s definitively high on detail and high on intent. Everyone here is obviously here to win.

“There is no second guessing that or second guessing anyone’s effort either. It’s always good to be in an environment like that because everyone wants to be the best they can.”

“It was an incredible feeling man. I made a lot of sacrifices to get to a point and then when it finally gets there, you realise that it was all worth it.

“To play for my second home, my adopted country, it’s been an incredible honour and it’s a privilege.

“It was incredible to be out there with the lads today. I’d say this is probably home to me than anywhere else has ever been. It was an incredible feeling and I am incredibly blessed.”

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About the author:

Sean Farrell

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