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Dublin: 11 °C Friday 21 February, 2020

Moore ready to make a mark for Ireland U20 after concussion kept him out of Six Nations

The Ulster talent is aiming to make sure there is a seamless transition in the centre for Ireland.

CONCUSSION DOES SOME very, very odd things to the sufferer’s thought processes and mindset.

As onlookers, we’ve become all too familiar with the sight of players trying to talk down the affects of the ‘head knock,’ even making an effort to shun their immediate medical responder and try to play on.

‘Be grand,‘ goes the typical ignorant man approach to health and well-being.

For up-and-coming Ulster centre Stewart Moore, there was actually a strange moment of clarity. The 19-year-old suffered a concussion in a pre-Christmas U20 trial against Leinster in Donnybrook, but the first thought he remembers was the prescient knowledge that this was not something he could walk off in a day or two.

Stewart Moore Moore makes a break during the trial match against Leinster in December. Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

“When I did it I was completely out of it,” the centre said before heading off to Argentina for this week’s World Rugby U20 Championship, “but I remember waking up in hospital and kinda knowing what was happening there.

“The first thing I said to my mum was, ‘oh, that’s the Six Nations.’ I was distraught watching it and my parents didn’t actually like me watching it and stuff but I wanted to watch it.

“I knew I would be back for the World Cup and I knew I would want that position if I could get it.”

During his three months out with concussion he returned to Dublin for reassuring updates from his neurologist.

“The next day I felt grand, but I just listened to what needs to be done. Angus Curtis, especially, has had a lot of concussions and he had season-ending after Leicester in the Champions Cup.

“Everyone goes through (injuries), they have their lows and ups so it was mainly low the whole season. Hopefully it can end on an up.”

Stewart Moore Stewart Moore at PWC HQ before Ireland headed for Argentina. Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

Moore pluralises low, because his return from concussion has been far from straightforward. Back in AIL action with Malone, he picked up a medial collateral ligament injury. That left him sidelined for a further stretch before chasing minutes at the end of the season.

This time, he has progressed through the pre-tournament trial matches, shedding rust and building match fitness as he goes. ‘The position’ he mentions wanting above is the inside centre role that became available with captain David Hawkshaw out injured. Moore is gutted for the Leinster man, but has spent his time on the sidelines wisely, picking over Ireland’s midfield play to make sure that he can hit the ground running on his U20 debut.

“I watched all the games and how Hawkshaw plays. I know the role and exactly what he wants. I watched Angus Curtis the year before as well so I know the style they want to play and I will just do that to the best of my ability.”

“I was obviously jealous (of playing a part in the Grand Slam) but it was great for the lads. I have trained with them and played with them and played against them and just watching them go out there was class. I had no doubts about them against England or France. I knew they were going to do it.”

“With the three months and the concussion as well you can train but you can’t do contact. So you are training away and good fitness-wise and I felt really good coming back into the rugby. A bit nervous obviously because it was my head and contact and stuff but (Ulster skills coach) Dan Soper is there and he is taking injured skills and he is top class. There are boys still keeping their skills up as well as their gym and fitness.”

Stewart Moore and Alex Seville Moore during his debut against Gloucester. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Injuries aside, and hopefully behind him, the past year has still represented a time of forward progress for Moore even if he has not been on the field anywhere near as much as he would like. 

With an academy berth in place, he had to cancel plans to go on holiday in Magaluf last summer and instead slotted in for senior training.

He made his Ulster debut shortly after turning 19 in a pre-season fixture against Gloucester. Senior rugby has been a steep learning curve, but he has enjoyed working through it.

“You have boys like Will Addison, who has been a great help on and off the field. It is big jump but when you are exposed so much to that.

“I did the whole pre-season, which was unexpected, and I enjoyed it. I felt like I had a really good pre-season behind me and I started the pre-season games against Wasps and Gloucester.

“Got injured again so it has probably been the hardest year of rugby in terms of loads and stuff, but it is nice that I’ve been brought back into the seniors and into the mix as soon as I’ve come back from injury.

“It’s been good getting that exposure to players like Stu McCloskey, Luke Marshall — I’ve been training in the ‘injured club’ with Luke for a good bit so it’s good to see him back.  It just shows quickly you can go from that to playing in the Champions Cup.”

“I feel, going to the next pre-season, that I do belong there and they are great lads.

“You are training beside Jacob Stockdale, who is possibly the hottest winger in world rugby and you are passing to him and he is passing back, you do feel a sense of belonging.”

Gavan Casey is joined by Murray Kinsella and Sean Farrell for a review of the 2018/19 season, and cast an eye forward to next year and the Rugby World Cup in Japan.:

Source: The42 Rugby Weekly/SoundCloud

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Sean Farrell

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