It’s always going to be both a special and nervous occasion when a player makes his starting international debut but for Will Addison, making his first appearance on Irish soil brought with it a lot of emotion considering the journey which has brought him to these shores.
Addison had close ties to Ireland when growing up in England through his mother who hails from Enniskillen in Co. Fermanagh and he said last week that he had a passion for Ireland instilled into him from a young age.
The former Sale Sharks man and England U-20 international spoke to the media in the build-up to the clash with Argentina and he openly admitted how much it would mean to him and his family to make his debut on Irish soil after getting his first cap against Italy in Chicago.
Unfortunately, Joe Schmidt’s squad announcement last Thursday halted those plans but unbeknownst to Addison, he would, in fact, be starting from the referee’s first whistle, something which only became clear to him about 20 minutes before kick-off when Robbie Henhsae pulled up with a tight hamstring during the warm-up.
“It has been a bit of a whirlwind so I wouldn’t remember the exact minute but it was probably about 20-minutes before (kickoff),” Addison said on finding out when he would be starting the game.
Naturally, Addison would have been disappointed with being left out of the matchday 23 but yet he still saw the positive of being named as the 24th man in the build-up to Saturday.
“Coming in as 24th man this week, I saw it as a real positive that I could experience the environment here at the Aviva for the team run and also on game day. That was always going to be a boost to me and then coming into the starting lineup late on was a real boost again.
“It really threw me in at the deep end but I absolutely loved it.”
It was probably only an hour after the full-time whistle when Addison spoke to the media, hardly enough time to reflect on a pretty special moment in his career but he admits that emotion took over when he spoke to his mother on the phone immediately after he helped Ireland to secure the victory.
“I was pretty much in tears on the phone to my Mum just there, they sadly couldn’t come over this time with it being a spur of the moment selection. So luckily I had my girlfriend here which was great but was on the phone to the parents and family just then.
“Yeah, I was full of emotion and luckily that kind of surprise selection kind of took out that emotion a little bit and let me focus on my task. Certainly, after the game, it filled me with absolute pride.”
Addison couldn’t confirm whether his parents will travel to Dublin next Saturday for the clash with the All Blacks as he said he would wait to see what Schmidt’s team announcement on Thursday reveals.
However, as Saturday showed, the unexpected is never too far away, so maybe being named as the 24th man is good enough to warrant the parents flying over.
With the All Blacks now already in Dublin, all focus will be on Saturday’s clash with the world champions and Addison expects training this week to go up another level as everyone fights it out for one of those much-coveted spots in the matchday 23.
“The best team in the world are coming to town. Everybody will be putting up their hand in training and that’s going to be pretty tasty next week.”