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John Cooney backs ‘relaxed’ Robert Baloucoune for big future with Ireland

John Cooney Robert Baloucoune

John Cooney has backed his Ulster teammate Robert Baloucoune to cement his place in the Ireland team over the next couple of years.

Baloucoune won his first cap for Ireland against the USA on Saturday and scored a remarkable solo to announce his arrival on the international stage.

Cooney was speaking as a ‘Tackle Your Feelings’ ambassador for Zurich and Rugby Players Ireland and explained why he believes Baloucoune will have a very bright future with the men in green.

‘He’s got a lot to give to Ireland.’

“With that speed, it’s pretty easy to play with someone like him. You’ll probably hear me shouting in games, telling him to keep running after kicks I do, he’s 6’4″ and he’s got an incredible leap,” Cooney said.

“I find every time I look over at him in a game he looks tired, but I think it’s because of a continued up and down workrate.

“He’s very good at chasing kicks, very compact in defence and he makes good reads. I think he’s got a lot to give to Ireland rugby and I think in the next couple of years he’ll really cement that role.”

John Cooney on Robert Baloucoune’s laid back attitude.

While the pressures of international rugby can be difficult for experienced players to deal with, let alone a 23-year-old with one cap, Cooney reckons Baloucoune is well able to deal with the extra stress.

The Ulster scrum-half revealed that the youngster is a very relaxed person off the pitch, something which Cooney believes could help him in his career in rugby.

“He’s very laid back. He’s always late to meetings. I think with any other person you would get annoyed, whereas his personality kind of suits it. He doesn’t intend to do it in any bad way,” Cooney explained.

“I remember he lost his phone before and I don’t even know if he turned up [to the meeting]. This was a couple of years ago when he first started and they had to find his mum and ask her where he was.

“That [personality] probably of suits him in terms of the step up to international rugby. He’s a relaxed guy off the field and with his attributes on the field, it comes quite easy to him.”

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