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Dublin: 18 °C Saturday 21 September, 2019
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'I just got off the line and got a bit of a stinger on my shoulder' - Marmion

The Connacht scrum-half played 40 minutes on the wing for Ireland in the win over the Wallabies.

KIERAN MARMION DID have some experience on the wing before being unexpectedly pitched into the position for the entire second half of Ireland’s dramatic win over Australia on Saturday evening.

The Connacht scrum-half had played there for Cardiff U16s in a clash with the Dragons some years ago.

“A bit different to playing Australia,” is how 24-year-old Marmion put it on Saturday evening after a frenetic and absorbing game.

Marmion Pocock Marmion forces David Pocock into a forward pass.

Marmion is almost getting used to popping up on the wing for Ireland at this stage.

Having made his first start for Ireland against Canada three weekends ago, when he wore the number nine shirt, Marmion was called on out wide in the closing seven minutes of the defeat to the All Blacks in Dublin after Simon Zebo suffered cramp.

Marmion coped on the wing in that short cameo, but was hardly prepared to go for 40 minutes in the wide channels on Saturday. Injuries to Rob Kearney, Andrew Trimble and Jared Payne decimated Ireland’s backline, however, and Marmion stepped up.

“I got a bit of a taster of it last week [against the All Blacks]. I obviously haven’t played there much so it was about trusting my instincts, really,” said Marmion.

The lads on the sideline actually helped me out a good bit. Richie Murphy was kind of telling me what to do, so I was trying to listen to him and to get on with it.”

While the Wallabies understandably targeted Marmion’s wing within moments of the second half getting underway, he largely coped well.

Tevita Kuridrani did score in Marmion’s corner, but the Connacht man also helped to prevent what looked like a certain try a little earlier, as he pressured David Pocock into making a forward pass to Henry Speight.

Finlay Bealham, Ultan Dillane and Kieran Marmion celebrate after the game Marmion with Connacht team-mates Finlay Bealham and Ultan Dillane. Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

“I didn’t really know who it was,” said Marmion of that incident. “I just got off the line and got a bit of a stinger on my shoulder. It definitely gets you into the game, that sort of thing.”

Along with that powerful hit on the openside, Marmion had two fine tackles on the high-profile Israel Folau.

“I guess get off the line and just try to shut him down as quick as possible, that was the key,” said Marmion. “Obviously, he’s a pretty big lad so just go low on him and hopefully bring him down.”

Marmion came across as having been completely unfazed by the experience, though it must surely have felt helter-skelter out on the pitch.

Naturally, he would have preferred to earn his ninth Ireland cap at scrum-half, but Marmion was simply delighted to be on the pitch as Joe Schmidt’s side made history with a third win over one of the three big Southern Hemisphere teams this year.

“I guess it’s great exposure to be out there,” said Marmion. “Even though I wasn’t in my main position, just being on the pitch I can take a lot of experience from that. So hopefully moving forward I can push on and keep going.

“It was all pretty calm. The lads kind of were all over the place, Joey [Carbery] was at full-back and Earlsy went back into 13.

Marmion Marmion shuts the door on a Wallabies' wide attack.

“Everyone was just pretty calm. We just trusted our instincts and tried to work together and kept pushing on.”

Marmion’s ability to muscle up and get the job done helped Ireland to round out a highly positive November Test series with a third win in four games.

While provincial concerns will occupy the minds of players and supporters for the next few months, the return of the Six Nations is only around the corner.

“Before the game, we spoke about finishing off this November series on a high,” said Marmion. “So it was important in terms of going into the Six Nations, I think we can build a lot of confidence off that.

“Coming back into camp, we should be on a high. Obviously, there are a lot of things to fix there as well but I think we’re in a good place going forward.”

- This article was updated at 8.34 to correct ‘Ulster’ to ‘Connacht’ in the caption on the second photograph.

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Murray Kinsella

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