'It’s very difficult' - Versatile Fitzgerald says it's tough to be a Jack of all trades

Fitzgerald has played three different positions in his last three games for Ireland.

Fitzgerald started the opening game against Canada at 12.
Fitzgerald started the opening game against Canada at 12.

Rory Keane reports from Guildford

IN A SQUAD full of versatile players, Luke Fitzgerald is perhaps the most versatile of all.

The Leinster three-quarter has operated at inside centre, outside centre and left wing in his last three Ireland starts.

Fitzgerald lined up on the left wing during the 28-22 victory over Scotland in August, scoring a cracking try off an Ian Madigan cross-kick that day, before being deployed at outside centre alongside Robbie Henshaw for the following week’s Test against Wales in Dublin.

Fitzgerald didn’t feature in the matchday squad for the 21-13 defeat by England at Twickenham and, when Henshaw pulled up with a hamstring injury before the World Cup squad departed for Cardiff, Fitzgerald was handed the number 12 shirt for the tournament opener against the Canadians.

It can’t be easy to prepare for a Test match not knowing if you’ll be defending in the 12 channel or roaming free on the outside edges, and Fitzgerald agrees.

“Yeah it’s very difficult,” said Fitzgerald. “Having to prep to play or possibly playing in a lot of different positions makes it very tricky to be a master of any one to be honest with you.”

Fitzgerald’s career has been blighted by injuries over the last two years with a troublesome groin injury taking its toll.

Luke Fitzgerald Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

After appearing as a replacement in the now infamous 24-22 loss to the All Blacks in November 2013, Fitzgerald did not feature again for Ireland until the Six Nations title-clinching clash against Scotland in March.

It’s been a long road back for the Dubliner. Having missed out on the 2007 and the 2011 World Cups, Fitzgerald was determined to avoid hat-trick of heartbreaks.

“Yeah, it was the goal.” the 28-year-old admitted. ” I think it was definitely in the back of my mind at the start of last season when obviously I was struggling a lot.

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“I couldn’t really figure out that groin problem. Once I got that sorted it was obviously all back on the cards but I was pretty close to calling it a day.

“I had four injuries which took me over six months out. Two of which were a nine monther and that happened to be a 10-month injury as it turned out. I was doing the wrong rehab for a long time.

“It was very frustrating. I find it pretty hard to say that I’m lucky to be here…  but I suppose I’ve worked really hard and definitely taken a couple of chances with injuries.”

It’s been a long journey back for Fitzgerald but one that has shaped him as a player and a person.

“Definitely the journey shapes a lot of your mindset in these scenarios,” Fitzgerald added.

“I definitely feel like you have an advantage in that if you do get set backs… mentally I know I can come back from things that seem maybe insurmountable to some people and have proven to be insurmountable to other people.

“I feel that’s s big advantage I have… my own belief in  myself, what I’m capable of and what I bring to the table. They are strong things to have in the squad. I feel like I’m a guy you want to have in a tough situation in a game.”

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