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Dublin: 10 °C Wednesday 24 April, 2019
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Pat Lam thrilled to see Marmion stop being 'stunt double' to slip into starting role for Ireland

‘When Conor has had niggles, Kieran has done all the training. But that gives him confidence.’

Image: James Crombie/INPHO

CONNACHT COACH PAT Lam has praised scrum-half Kieran Marmion’s persistence and says he is the perfect example of how to break into the Irish set-up.

Marmion, 25, won his 13th international cap last weekend, but it was his first start in the Six Nations for Ireland and he played a pivotal role in their brilliant victory over England at Aviva Stadium.

The exciting number nine has scored 20 tries in 116 appearances for his province since 2012-13, and he made his Irish debut in June 2014 on the summer tour to Argentina. But Marmion only started his first game for his country last November, when he scored a try in Ireland’s 52-21 victory over Canada, while last weekend Conor Murray’s injury paved the way for his chance against England.

“All you can do is make the most of every opportunity you have there. He has learned a lot from Conor Murray. He has been in that environment. You could see he was so comfortable,” said Lam.

Sometimes he has been Murray’s stunt double, when Conor has had niggles, Kieran has done all the training. But that gives him confidence. He was training, being a part of it, building relationships with guys around him, to the point where he was extremely comfortable.

“That is what Marmion showed at the weekend, and that is what everyone is commenting about. He just slipped in and did the job.

“You might not be playing, but there are probably 100 half-backs that would like to be in that environment, and he is getting that run. You always have to keep chipping away until you get the chance.

“But if your chance comes, don’t blow it.”

Ireland’s victory over Eddie Jones’ side ended England’s hopes of a Grand Slam and a world record breaking 19th international victory in a row.

Lam departs Connacht at the end of the season, when he will hook up with Bristol. But he says Irish rugby is on a perfect footing going forward.

“When we think about the Irish, everyone talked after the last World Cup when they lost those players. You can see there is a lot of young guys if they get the opportunity, and they start building up the caps, it bodes well for Irish Rugby.

“Four strong provinces, there is a conveyor belt of talent coming through. The U20s are doing well, the women are doing well. Irish rugby is in a great spot. At the weekend there easily could have been a Grand Slam. But it highlighted that we are in a healthy place.

“This whole period has been good, it’s no coincidence. There was a bit of doom and gloom last year with the other provinces. But everyone is doing well.

“You look at Scannell, Conway coming on the scene, Tiernan, then you look across at Leinster and the guys that they are bringing through with Byrne and O’Loughlin, Jack Conan…

“If I didn’t work here I wouldn’t even know some of those names. Being here and watching it all, Irish rugby is going to be strong for a while. And to be in the top four in the world is massive. It’s great to be a part of it.”

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Daragh Small

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