Gilroy keen to take his chance

Date published: June 8 2016

Ireland winger Craig Gilroy is determined to make the most of his late call-up to head coach Joe Schmidt's squad for the three-Test series against the Springboks.

The Ulster stalwart was called up as a replacement for the tour to South Africa after Dave Kearney, Luke Fitzgerald, Johnny Sexton and Rob Kearney were ruled out through injury. The quartet's exclusion tweaked the composition of series odds found on sites like

Gilroy, who made his Test debut in 2012, is keen to impress Schmidt and add to the six caps he's won for his country.

"I haven't played since Georgia (in 2014) and everyone wants to have played more, but the competition in my position is vast and you just to have to be that little better, have those one per centres to play international rugby for Ireland," he said.

"Right now I've put my head down and worked hard these last couple of seasons, and I feel like I'm getting the rewards for that.

"It was slightly disappointing (not to make the initial squad), but it's international rugby and it's a massive standard with a lot of competition especially if you look in my position.

"But, you're always one or two injuries away and that's the case for me. I didn't have any holidays booked thankfully. I looked down at my phone and had a missed call from Joe and I phoned him back right away.

"He called me into camp, I wasn't sure if I was touring or just down for the mini-camp before we left, but then he let me know I was going and I thanked him for the opportunity.

"Obviously, I was beaming from ear to ear on the inside while trying to keep a straight face and be professional about it."

The 25-year-old knows what Schmidt expects from his wingers and feels his game has improved in the necessary departments.

"It's good, it means it will round off our game," he said of Schmidt's demands.

"I hope to be able to do the stuff that I can do to maybe bring a little bit of X factor and give Joe what he wants as well on top of that.

"He's big in the air. He wants good aerial skills, something I've been working hard on back with the province.

"He wants stuff at the breakdown, stuff like that, not just someone who's going to stand on the wing and wait for the ball, and try and do the fancy work; more of an all-round game."