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World Cup Misery To Irish Debut, Addison Goes From Fan To Cap

Three years is a long time in rugby, so much that someone can go to an Ireland match as a fan and wind up playing for them 36 months later – that’s what happened to Ireland’s latest capped international, Will Addison. 

Addison, who made his debut for Joe Schmidt’s side against Italy on Saturday, spoke to the media today at their base in Carton House and he admits that his Irish mother long established a sense of passion for Ireland from a young age.

“I’ve got an Irish mother, who instilled in me a real passion for Ireland,” Addison said.

“Brian O’Driscoll was my hero growing up so I always liked to be the different one in school, supporting Ireland when I was younger. Playing in England, I was in a good pathway with them but it was an ambition and I had a chat with Joe [Schmidt] over the phone to come over.

Will Addison

“To have that kind of contact off probably one of the best coaches in the world lights that fire inside you. Since the moment I’ve spoken to him I’ve had a great experience as well.” 

For Addison, he reflects on his debut as an “amazing experience” but he knows that when he lines out in green in front of a home crowd that it would be extra special and that could happen this weekend against Argentina.

“Yeah, it would be great [the prospect of a home debut]. I was lucky enough to have my Mum and Dad at the game over in Chicago. Amazing experience for me to have them there but a home debut at the Aviva, somewhere where I’ve never played before, I’m extremely excited but I have to focus on what I can control at the moment and that’s in training.

“Had a good hit out today and I have to make sure my knowledge is really good come Thursday and Friday and see if that puts me in the frame for the weekend.”

Argentina have often been considered a “bogey” team for Ireland which is fair when you consider the southern hemisphere nation has beaten the current No.2 ranked team in the world at the 1999, 2007 and 2015 World Cups.

The latest of those heartbreaking defeats came at the Millenium Stadium in 2015 at the quarter-final stage, a fixture which Addison attended with his parents as a supporter while he was playing for the Sale Sharks in England.

Addison Ireland Argentina

“I was lucky enough, or unfortunate enough, to be in the stadium on that quarter-final day down in the Millenium Stadium. I know the heartache that has caused and I think it’s still lodged in the back of most Irish folks’ mind. It’s certainly one of those that we want to act upon when we’re at the Aviva against one of the top teams, we want to perform. With that in mind, you don’t really look beyond that really.”

Reflecting on that day three years ago, Addison admits that it’s pretty strange to find himself in the position that he is in now i.e. speaking to the media as an Ireland player who is preparing for a match against the team who knocked the side he supported out of the World Cup in 2015.

“Yeah, really strange. I was down there, I think I had played Saracens or something, so I had a black eye, I remember it quite vividly.

“I sat next to Mum and Dad watching the game. Unfortunately, a bad result, but you look at the three years since then and it’s really spurred the team on to greater things and we’ll be looking to put in a good performance this weekend.”

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Author: Sean McMahon

Sean is Deputy Editor and head rugby writer. You can contact him by email [email protected] or on Twitter