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01st Mar 2021

Full text of Craig Casey’s interview after lively Ireland debut, and initiation song

Patrick McCarry

Craig Casey

To think that he delivered this AFTER he had just sung ‘Careless Whisper’ to the Ireland squad makes it even better.

Craig Casey has certainly made his impression on this Ireland team, and his new teammates.

Having first been called in as a ‘development player’, last autumn, the 21-year-old impressed all around him with his work-rate and eagerness to be the very best player he can be. Following Ireland’s 48-10 victory over Italy, Johnny Sexton likened him to England legend Jonny Wilkinson, while others have likened him to one of his rugby idols Faf de Klerk.

Casey was due up first in the ‘mixed zone’ for an interview, after his Test debut, but was delayed in the dressing room as he crooned George Michael’s ‘Carless Whisper’ to his rapt Ireland teammates. As initiation songs go, it definitely stands out:

Jamison Gibson-Park, who started the Italy game in the No.9 jersey, dutifully filled in for Casey while he was finishing up his initiation. The Munster scrumhalf then breathlessly arrived and delivered a great interview.

We felt it would best portray what was going through Casey’s mind, after the game, by giving you the full text of his first media interview after becoming Ireland’s 1,122nd Test player. Enjoy:

What’s your overriding feeling after winning your first cap?

Everything I’ve dreamt of. It makes it a lot better to get the win, so I’m delighted.

What about those Jonny Wilkinson comparisons from Johnny Sexton?

(Laughs) He said this to me a few weeks ago. I think it’s to do with obsessiveness with rugby. I’ll take that compliment, yeah. Being compared to Jonny Wilkinson, I’ll definitely take that.

What is it like having to compete with the best scrum-halves in Ireland, even with Conor Murray at Munster?

Of course I want to play games for Ireland, that’s the goal. I don’t want to sit back and be happy with being third choice. I want to push on now, but when you’ve got players of Mur and Jamo’s calibre, it’s tough to break in. But I’m not going to sit back and be happy I want to push on.

When was the moment you realised you were moving ahead of the likes of John Cooney and Luke McGrath?

I don’t think there was a moment. [But] I put it down as a goal, when we went into the first lockdown – to come into the next season as an international.

I came close a few weeks ago against France, but today’s all the sweeter for it. I don’t think there was a moment… maybe today after the 60th minute when we scored a try and I thought, ‘Yes, I’m going to make my international debut’. There was no other moment.

When was the first time you came across Ryan Baird? You played against him at Under-18 Schools level and you’ve shared a lot of this journey together

He was quality back then, then I went on to play with him the Irish U18 Schools and U20s. He’s been class throughout. He’s absolutely unreal, a freak athlete. He’s ran over 10 metres per second, which is terrifying for a fella so big. He has all the capabilities to push on.

Has everyone back at Shannon RFC been sending you messages?

The phone was buzzing, especially in the France week I got a hell of a lot of texts. I had to turn the phone off until after the game, so I had to go back through the messages after not playing. That was a bit awkward.  Everyone from Shannon’s been on to me. Peter Stringer text me before the France game, so that was cool. Everyone’s so supportive.

What did Peter Stringer message you?

He just said best of luck and be yourself, don’t try and do anything out of the ordinary.

Have yourself and Ryan been good for pushing each other on?

I wouldn’t say we joined up and motivated each other. There wasn’t need for extra motivation. We’re pretty motivated anyway. But it’s cool we played against and with each other at 18s, with each other at 20s and then making a debut today. it’s cool to be on the same side.

Alan Quinlan was saying, on TV, that he held you as a baby, at Shannon. Nice to be embarrassed like that, back home?!

I don’t actually remember that. But that’s great, yeah! There’s been a photo going around of Stringer holding me as well… hopefully they don’t keep flooding out now.


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