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'This is something you'll remember for the rest of your life'

Kieran Treadwell had to wait a long time to get back in the Ireland squad.

Tadhg Furlong and Kieran Treadwell.
Tadhg Furlong and Kieran Treadwell.
Image: Billy Stickland/INPHO

THREE IRELAND CAPS in 2017 and then Kieran Treadwell found himself very much on the outside looking in.

The athletic lock had arrived over to Ulster from his native England in 2016 and was a senior Ireland international a year later as he played in two summer Tests against Japan before adding a third cap in a November clash against Fiji in Dublin.

Qualifying through his Wexford-born mother, Treadwell had played for Ireland U18s before switching to England at U20s level, starting in the second row as they won a Six Nations title in 2015.

The call came from Ireland the following year, though, and Treadwell made a big decision to leave Harlequins to join Ulster. When he was winning Ireland caps a year later, he must have felt great satisfaction with his call.

But it hasn’t been all smooth sailing since. Other locks have come and gone in the Ireland squad but Treadwell was ignored. He has had to fight for a place in Ulster’s starting XV at times too.

The frustrations and setbacks made last Saturday all the sweeter for the 26-year-old, who played 18 minutes off the bench for Andy Farrell’s side as they secured the Triple Crown by beating Scotland. This is the kind of stuff Treadwell was imagining when he moved to Ireland as a 20-year-old.

“It was a massive decision at the time to come over and a bit of a risk but you don’t look back, just keep on going and working hard and hoping it will all come to fruition in the end,” said Treadwell on Saturday night.

“To get moments like today is massive and this is something you’ll remember for the rest of your life.

“My mum, dad, and sister travelled over and a few mates travelled over. My missus came down from Belfast with her family too, so it was a good crew.

“They’ve all been there supporting me the whole way, the ups and downs, so it was just fantastic to get this massive high.”

dan-sheehan-celebrates-after-the-game-with-kieran-treadwell Treadwell with Dan Sheehan. Source: Ben Brady/INPHO

The door opened again for Treadwell when Ultan Dillane confirmed he was heading abroad this summer, with the Connacht man set to join Ronan O’Gara’s La Rochelle.

It meant there was suddenly a second-row spot up for grabs in Farrell’s squad and Treadwell had been in impressive form at Ulster, whose exciting approach suits his mobility.

“Ulster have been fantastic,” said Treadwell. “The way we play in Ulster has been massive for me, I quite like to get into open play and that sort of attacking rugby.

“The boys around there, the young lads are really good and always testing you, pushing you to the best of your ability. I’ve been there for a few years now so I can lend my hand with a bit of experience.

“All the coaches have been massive. Dan [McFarland] and Roddy [Grant] with my set-piece has been massive. Massive kudos to them and I really appreciate everything they do.”

Treadwell has also thoroughly enjoyed the environment in Farrell’s Ireland camp, which is different to the one he experienced under Joe Schmidt back in 2017.

“It’s very much come down and be yourself, ‘we want you to be the best of you,’ effectively,” he explained.

“That’s how you fit in, just be yourself and there’s no wrong answers. I find that good, you’ve always got a voice, a platform to speak your mind and your opinion.

“You have so many good boys in there that have seen and done a lot, you can really take a lot from them and learn quite quickly.”

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kieran-treadwell-with-hamish-watson Treadwell carries against Scotland. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

Treadwell came off the bench for Ireland against Italy in Round 3 of this Six Nations when James Ryan and Iain Henderson were ruled out, then had another opportunity against the Scots with Ryan Baird and James Ryan missing.

The Ulster man has delighted in getting these chances and now wants more as Ireland look towards a five-game tour of New Zealand this summer.

“This isn’t the last hurrah, I’m just going to keep on going, doing my thing and put the head down,” said Treadwell.

“Everyone wants to be involved. I’ll just keep doing what I’m doing and take what I’ve learnt from these nine weeks here to keep pushing on.

“Do what I do here for Ulster and hopefully that’s enough to get back on the plane to New Zealand.”

A new episode of The Front Row, in partnership with Guinness, is out now. After Ireland’s Triple Crown win, Murray Kinsella gives us the rundown on his team of the tournament. Ireland international Sene Naoupu also joins the panel to chat about her career and look ahead to the start of the Women’s Six Nations. Click here to subscribe or listen below:

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