Highlights on Off The Ball

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Highlights on Off The Ball


"I told Joe what I felt" | John Cooney on Schmidt's World Cup phone call

Ireland and Ulster scrum-half John Cooney shared with OTB's Wednesday Night Rugby the details o...

Ireland and Ulster scrum-half John Cooney shared with OTB's Wednesday Night Rugby the details of a phone call with Joe Schmidt that ended his World Cup ambitions in 2019. 

One of those close enough to the periphery of Joe Schmidt's World Cup plans that was eventually pushed off, it is to John Cooney's credit that he has made Schmidt's decision appear misguided ever since.

The former Leinster and Connacht scrum-half who has noticeably hit his stride at Ulster in recent years, while his form bodes well for international recognition going forward, the disappointment of not making the journey to Japan in 2019 still lingers.

As with all of those who suffered the same fate, one suspects it is Cooney's overall belief that he should have been selected which rankles.

"I had suspected the week before the announcement that I might be dropped," he recalled on OTB's Wednesday Night Rugby, "but it did come as a shock to me. I thought I was going quite well, so I found it hard to take."

After initially discovering that he had a missed call from Joe Schmidt on his phone, when Cooney eventually did make contact with the New Zealander he did not hesitate to argue against the coach's call.

"I argued a little bit," he admitted, "and I regret not arguing more in the past when I wasn't picked years before.

"Understanding my personality a little better now, I should have gone with what I believe and said how I felt and maybe that would have gotten me further. For too long, I just sort of accepted things and kept my head down.

"So, I just told him what I felt."

Unmoved, Cooney's protest would have no bearing on the Ireland coach's selection.

"I was disappointed straight away," he remarked of his immediate reaction after the phone call had taken place. "My girlfriend was with me and I just had a couple of minutes to myself.

"But I just went up and jumped on the Wattbike and did a bit of gym work. Dan [McFarland, Ulster head coach] rang me and I told him I would talk to him the next day and we would make a plan."

You can listen to the podcast with John here.

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2019 Rugby World Cup Connacht Ireland Joe Schmidt John Cooney Leinster Rugby Union Ulster