Academy back preparing well for Saturday's World Rugby U20 Championship final
Brett Connon is hoping he and his Ireland U20s team mates can make history this Saturday as they face England U20s in the final of the World Rugby U20s Championships in Manchester,
Ireland qualified for their first ever appearance in the competition’s final, with a highly impressive 37-7 dismantling of an Argentina side who themselves had taken eye catching wins against France and South Africa in the pool stages.
It was a result that Connon says, the team were confident that they could achieve in the face of what was expected to be a stern challenge.
“We looked at them and knew that they’d be a tough team after they’d beaten France and South Africa, but we had confidence in ourselves and what we do that if we played to our best, then we were capable of a result like the one we took.” He said.
Joining the side ahead of the final pool game against Georgia, following an injury to Munster’s Bill Johnston, it was a rapid change in pace from preparing for pre-season at Kingston Park but an experience that the back has enjoyed.
“It’s been an unbelievable experience. You’re playing on the biggest stage and against the best players of your age and having the chance to play against that calibre is all you can really ask for. I’m sure it will prove to be an important part of me developing as a player.
“I was a bit surprised to get the call, happy, but surprised. I was sat on the couch watching when Bill got injured and got the call shortly after to get down to Manchester as quickly as I could.
“I had been told when the squad was announced that I was on stand by and that playing as many games as the team does in the space of two and a bit weeks, it was likely that call ups would happen.
“Obviously it’s a shame that the chance has come because someone else has been unlucky enough to get injured, but it is great to be part of a team in a pretty historic championship for Ireland U20s.
“It’s a bit different but it’s a good environment to be involved in and actually it is quite relaxed.”
Looking ahead to Saturday’s game, Connon says that there is no added feelings of pressure and that the Irish squad are sticking to the mind-set that has served them well so far in the tournament.
“We’ve been taking every game at a time and its helped being the underdogs, that has let us go under the radar a bit.
“We’re looking forward to it but we’re treating it as we have the others in the tournament, as just the next game.”
As back in the U20s 6 Nations fixture at Kingston Park back in February, a match Ireland won in no small part thanks to Connon, Saturday will see him again take on club-mate and house-mate Callum Chick.
And while that sets up an added dimension to the tale of the game, it is not one that the Carlisle born player is being distracted by.
“There has been a little bit of back and forth! We live together so there’s a bit of pride at stake but mainly we’ve been focusing within our own group and trying not overhype the game.
“It’s a final, so there is a bit more to it, but as I said, treating games as ‘the next game’ has worked for us so far in the tournament so we’re sticking to that approach.
“If we win, it is one that makes history and it would be a very special moment to be part of that”
Saturday’s U20s World Championship final takes place at Sale Sharks AJ Bell stadium, with a 19:00 kick off and will be shown live by Sky Sports 3.