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‘It was a nice surprise to be involved in the squad when it got announced’

Kieran Treadwell earned a shock call-up to Andy Farrell’s Ireland panel for this year’s Six Nations championship.

Kieran Treadwell got a surprise call-up.
Kieran Treadwell got a surprise call-up.
Image: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

KIERAN TREADWELL MAY have been just as surprised as everyone else that he was called up to the Ireland squad for the Six Nations, but he’s intent on using the experience to both his and Ulster’s benefit moving forward.

The second row was a somewhat left-field selection by Andy Farrell for his panel in January, particularly given he hasn’t nailed down a starting jersey with his province, but he would not only head down to Carton House, he would also make two appearances off the bench against Italy and Scotland.

A try came in the win over the Italians, while he perhaps only played against the Scots because of injuries to James Ryan and Ryan Baird, but Treadwell certainly did not look out of place when he got his opportunities at the Aviva Stadium.

And now he wants to kick on from those first caps since November 2017 and ensure it’s not another four-and-a-half years before he’s next named in an international squad.

“I took massive confidence from it. It was a nice surprise to be involved in the squad when it got announced,” explains the English-born forward.

kieran-treadwell-wins-a-lineout Treadwell wins a line-out against Scotland. Source: Ben Brady/INPHO

“From there I thought, ‘I want to play, I’m here to play.’ I got the opportunity to play in two games, took massive confidence from that, and now I want to carry on learning and bring what I learnt in camp back here to Ulster.

“It was a surprise to get called back in. Obviously it’s something that you strive for, I got that taste in 2017 and was always really hungry to get back. It was unfinished business for me.

“Again, I still want to keep on going and pursue that even more now.”

Getting the chance to work up close with Paul O’Connell has also been of massive benefit for the Ireland pack as a whole, with their line-out and set-piece vastly improved since the Munster and Ireland legend joined Farrell’s back-room staff, and Treadwell admits he mined the 42-year-old for information.

“He’s obviously someone that I aspired to be like when I was younger and watching him. It was massive to pick his brains on stuff and being able to learn off him. It was massive, I really enjoyed it and took a lot from it,” he said.

“I think it’s more making sure I was confident and calm in the situations. Making sure that you nail the basics and make those things world class.”

Before he can turn his attention to potentially being included in the squad for Ireland’s summer tour to New Zealand, Treadwell has another tour to finish first – Ulster’s in South Africa.

After last week’s gut-wrenching and controversial defeat to the DHL Stormers in Cape Town, Dan McFarland’s side have since relocated to Pretoria for a meeting with the Vodacom Bulls at Loftus Versfeld Stadium tomorrow (1pm Irish time) and a reunion with former flanker Marcell Coetzee.

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billy-burns-is-tackled Ulster lost to the Stormers last week. Source: EJ Langer/INPHO

And while winning on its own is enough of a motivating factor, Ulster have no shortage of additional reasons to win – namely furthering their top-two aspirations, while also preparing for next week’s crucial Heineken Champions Cup quarter-final against Toulouse.

“It would be massive (if we won),” insists Treadwell. “To get the momentum from that game if we win going into Toulouse would be massive.

“It’s always tough to go away from home but this year (the South Africans) have that calibre of player in their squad that does make it a bit more competitive and a bit more enjoyable for everyone.

“It’s a great competition to pit yourself against the best, to play against World Cup winners. It’s a massive test and experience that we have to walk towards and take in our stride.”

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