Impressive Andrew Conway try-scoring rate is second to only one Ireland player 6 months ago

Impressive Andrew Conway try-scoring rate is second to only one Ireland player

"Andrew, we didn't quite expect you to turn up wearing a vest but, hey, just get on with life, I suppose!"

Tuesday afternoon of a crucial Six Nations week, Andrew Conway had the guns out and a big grin on his face.

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The Munster winger overcame a "dodgy" night of vomiting and feeling queasy, on the eve of the Six Nations opener, to score two tries for Ireland in their 29-7 win over Wales.

Speaking with us from the IRFU's High Performance Centre, four days on, Conway recalled how the bout of sickness seemed to appear out of nowhere.

I was a bit dodgy on Friday night. I didn’t think I was feeling dodgy. When you are preparing for a Test match there are nerves, it’s a big occasion and I didn’t even realise until I started puking.

When these things happen you kind of use your mind to not allow it in, as well. You just convince yourself you are feeling fine. You don’t say it to anyone unless you are really struggling obviously. I was grand. Once I got one out of me it wasn’t going to stop until I was empty. So probably a wise decision to get me off [after 62 minutes] because if the ball came my way, at one stage, I wouldn’t have been much use!"

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Conway's two-try burst, in the space of nine minutes, were enough to see him set an impressive try-scoring strike-rate that is second only to one player (more on that below).

On the latest House of Rugby [LISTEN from 9:50], former Leinster and Ireland star Denis Hickie praised Conway's role in his team's winning run, while Greg O'Shea told an interesting tale about him, from their days together at Munster.

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Andrew Conway Andrew Conway makes a point to his teammates during Ireland Rugby squad training at IRFU HPC at the Sport Ireland Campus. (Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile)

Greg O'Shea on Andrew Conway's Munster standards

"He had a lot of work to do for his first try [against Wales]," says Denis Hickie.

"He is one of these very industrious players, Andrew Conway. He is a player that was in and around the fringes when Joe Schmidt was the [Ireland] coach, and he's finding his place in the time, a bit more, under Andy Farrell.

"He's very competitive in the air, and with the ball. Without the ball, he is abrasive, aggressive and he defends well."

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"I was very impressed with Conway, back when I spent those three years at the [Munster] academy and he was in the senior team," Greg O'Shea comments.

"What I noticed about him was his basics were just so good - his passing, tackling, high ball. I remember specifically when Rassie Erasmus said, one time, in a meeting, 'Andrew Conway's high ball skills are so good that we almost see it as a set-piece'. His stats for getting the ball back were so good."

That is not the only statistic Conway is scoring highly at. The 30-year-old's two tries against the Wales saw him reach 15 in just 28 Tests [21 starts].

Andrew Conway's Test strike-rate for tries

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Conway is now just two tries away from the Top 10 all-time try-scorers list for Ireland. For a chap that made his Test debut aged 25, it is impressive going.

We thought we would look at strike-rate for players getting to 15 Test tries for Ireland, and see how many games it took them.

FASTEST IRISH PLAYERS TO 15 TEST TRIES

1 = Jacob Stockdale, 21 games (0.71 strike-rate)
2 = Andrew Conway, 28 games (0.53)
3 = Brian O'Driscoll & Geordan Murphy, 31 games (0.48)
5 = Tommy Bowe & Denis Hickie, 34 games (0.44)
7 = Brendan Mullin, 39 games (0.38)
8 = Keith Earls, 43 games (0.35)
9 = Shane Horgan, 48 games (0.31)
10 = Andrew Trimble, 55 games (0.27)
11 = Girvan Dempsey, 72 games (0.21)
12 = Rob Kearney & Johnny Sexton, 92 games (0.17)
14 = Ronan O'Gara, 102 games (0.15)

Asked about 'already mixing it' with some legendary Irish backs, Conway admitted he was not sure where he stood in the try-scoring charts.

"It's one of those ones where, yeah, that is great," he said. "The job of a winger, or at least perception of it, is that you score tries. That is changing, over the years.

"At the end of the day, scoring tries is what we're all trying to do. The team that scores more tries is usually the one that wins the match.

"It is something that I have concentrated on, a bit more, over the years. I've talked before about writing down my goals and visualisation stuff. I've added try-scoring into that. Putting down the word try-scorer and words around that, that resonate with me. That helps. It almost beats it into yourself that this is what you're here to do, and this is what you're good at, and you're going to do.

"I've got a relatively good strike-rate for Ireland, and hopefully that continues. It's a massive part of the game, amongst other things. It's certainly something that you want to be getting a try every other game. If you set a really high standard for yourself, you want to be scoring a try every couple of matches, if not a bit more. Staying on that trend is something that's important for me."

Starting on the right wing for Ireland, in Paris, Conway is expected to face off against a player, in Gabin Villière, that has a pretty decent Test strike-rate too.

The Toulon star, a former France Sevens flyer, has six tries in nine Test outings for Les Bleus, which included a weekend hat-trick against Italy.

"France are a seriously good team," says Conway. "They have threats across the board, massive pack, very agile, well able to play ball.

"The backline speaks for itself, I could name all seven, probably 14 you could name that can do serious damage. It’s going to be an unbelievably exciting challenge and a tough match but it’s something that we are really excited for because it’s going to give us a good idea of where we are at."