Kieran Marmion on South African sides joining the Pro 12 and Connacht's "disappointing" 2016-17

Ireland scrum-half chats to Off The Ball's Dave McIntyre

BY Raf Diallo 16:32 Thursday 20 July 2017, 16:32 20 Jul 2017

Rugby star Kieran Marmion launches Specsavers’ inaugural Kids Spectacle Wearer of the Year Awards, 20/9/2017 ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

"It's good to get away from the rugby and good to make sure you're relaxed and get the body back up to scratch."

But Kieran Marmion's summer holidays do come to an end this Monday coming when he returns to Connacht training, having featured for Ireland on the tour to Japan during June.

He is returning to a vastly different Connacht to the one he was used to with their Pro 12 winning head coach Pat Lam having departed and Kieran Keane taking his place ahead of next season.

Speaking to Off The Ball's Dave McIntyre at the launch of Specsavers' inaugural Kids Spectacle Wearer of the Year Awards, Marmion hasn't met Keane yet as the New Zealander finishes his work with the Chiefs.

And while he waits on those first impressions, he spoke of his disappointment with the 2016-17 campaign when Connacht's Pro 12 title defence ended with an eighth place finish in the table. 

"Obviously, the season last year was pretty disappointing, especially after the highs of the year before, we expected a lot more of ourselves. Not qualifying for the Champions Cup this year is hugely disappointing. I guess every game we play is an opportunity to impress individually as well and put our hands forward to get in Irish squads, so I guess a few lads took those opportunities but as a team it was pretty disappointing how things ended up," he said, before touching on the prospect of two South African teams being added to the Pro 12.    

"I think everyone I've spoken to hopes it goes ahead. It'll be a great trip for us. A lot of lads probably haven't been to South Africa before or played South African teams so everyone's looking forward to that," he said.  

Fresh from Ireland’s International test matches in Japan, Kieran Marmion was joined today by some mini specs wearing rugby fans (L-R) Nina Mullins McShea, age 6 from Templeogue, Trysten Bruen, age 6 from Balgriffin and Patrick Brady, age 6 from Clontarf to launch Specsavers’ inaugural Kids Spectacle Wearer of the Year Awards. ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

With Ireland premiere scrum-half Conor Murray away on Lions duty, Marmion relished the amount of time he was able to get on tour in Japan, adding, "Obviously with Conor not there, I get a lot more exposure in training sessions, a lot more reps. That's obviously great. When he would be in camp, I wouldn't be getting as much repetition in training."  

Marmion also reflected on the "biggest game of his career" when he started for Ireland against England in the final 2017 Six Nations game, adding that it came with the "most pressure".

"As soon as you're out on the pitch, all that kind of fades. I guess it was a hugely important and enjoyable game in my career and definitely something that I want more and so I've got to work as hard as I can when I'm with Connacht and when I'm in Irish camps to push as much as I can and get opportunities in those games," he said.

Kieran Marmion, today launched Specsavers first ever Kids Spectacle Wearer of the Year Awards, a competition that looks to celebrate children in Ireland who wear glasses with pride. The competition will help raise vital funds for Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital Crumlin, with Specsavers donating €1 to the charity for every entry received. Visit specsavers.ie/kids-swoty and the closing date to enter is Sunday, 10 September 2017. 

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