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Connacht's Paul Boyle hungry for more after first taste of Ireland camp

The 24-year-old won his first international cap in July.

Connacht’s Paul Boyle.
Connacht’s Paul Boyle.
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

CONNACHT’S PAUL BOYLE was certainly kept on his toes this summer. Between winning his first Ireland cap in July and getting acquainted with a new-look coaching team back at the Sportsground, there has been plenty of new faces to impress.

We’ll start with Ireland. On the back of a strong season with Connacht, Boyle made the cut in Andy Farrell’s squad for the summer Tests against Japan and the USA. He earned his first cap with a 26-minute cameo off the bench against the Eagles, but even more valuable was the experience gleaned from three weeks inside an Irish camp.

“It was daunting, but everyone is there for the same goal,” Boyle says.

“Everyone is there to try and make themselves the best player they can be and to do the best they can when they put on an Irish jersey. So when everyone is on the same path, it’s a lot easier to get in there and get stuck in.

“I learned a lot between coaches and players, seeing the top guys and what they do – the time they put into it, the extras, the video work, dealing with coaches in what they had to bring and the intensity. There was so much wrapped up into a three week window, but I definitely learned a lot from it and I’m excited to keep pushing on and try get back in their again.

Over the three weeks there was a lot of work ons, a lot of positives as well, and they let you know what you need to work on and what you’re good at, and to keep going with that. There hasn’t been much communication since but over the three weeks I got so much information that I’ve plenty to go on.”

Boyle then reported back for pre-season with Connacht where head coach Andy Friend was getting to work with a new coaching team. South African Deward Senekal is now overseeing the province’s forwards, with Peter Wilkins moving to the role of senior coach, while Mossy Lawler and Colm Tucker have also come into the senior coaching set-up.

“I worked with Cullie and Mossy before in the Academy. I always enjoyed working with them. Pete in his new role is doing a really good job and then Dewald, he’s kind of laying down the law with the forwards, and I’m really enjoying working under him as well. 

“Even during the international window when I hadn’t met him, he was texting me wishing me the best of luck. He’s a really nice guy. Then coaching-wise, like I said he kind of lays down the law. Really strict, but adds a bit of fun to it as well and he has some really cool ideas around how he wants our forward pack to play.”

Connacht’s new United Rugby Championship season kicks off on Friday night with a trip to play Cardiff. And with consistency once again the problem for Connacht in the 2020/21 campaign, Boyle is clear on where the squad need to sharpen up this year with the four South African sides expected to make for a more competitive league.

“It’s just putting in an 80-minute performance (each week),” he says.

“There’s been patches of games that have got away from us. Even if it’s only 10-15 minutes, it’s enough to let the game slip away so it’s not only about being consistent game-to-game, it’s being consistent for the full 80 minutes as well. 

“It’s about putting the head down and working hard (now). We’ve had plenty of weeks now to prep, we’ve had our two games, so I think it would be silly to have any excuses come the first game.

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“(The addition of the South African teams) will make it tougher, it will make it more exciting. South Africa are world champions, they just beat the Lions, and there’s going to be a lot of international players playing.

“So it’s exciting. It’s a good chance to test yourself against the best and then when you look at guys pushing for international selection, if Andy Farrell is looking at how you might go at international level, marking yourself up against South African sides and South African internationals is a good way to show him.”

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Ciarán Kennedy

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