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Hickie Makes History

Hickie Makes History

Leinster’s Denis Hickie will write himself into the history books tomorrow when he steps out on to the pitch at Central Coast stadium in Gosford.

Leinster’s Denis Hickie will write himself into the history books tomorrow when he steps out on to the pitch at Central Coast stadium in Gosford.

The winger will equal Keith Crossan’s record of 41 caps for Ireland as winger when he plays against Romania in Ireland’s opening game of the
Rugby World Cup.

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It’s an honour, he says, but isn’t phased by it. He’s just focused on the task at hand, putting points on the board against Romania.

“I hadn’t a clue really,” he said when asked about it. “It’s nice because I only really starting watching rugby around 1984 and 85 when I was
around nine or 10. Everyone watched rugby at the time in Ireland because Ireland had a great team. He was a player that I watched a lot when I was younger so I suppose matching his record is an honour.”

Denis could have equalled or even beaten the record earlier this year were
it not for injury, but that’s isn’t something he is concerned about either.

“There’s so many factors to getting picked on a national side, I’m just happy with the games I’ve player and I don9t really consider the ones I wasn’t involved in. There were plenty of injuries over the years, and some I
just wasn’t picked for.”

The Irish team are in Australia now for nine days. How has the build up gone?

“The feeling in the camp all week has been very upbeat. Obviously there were some disappointed [that] they will not get to play in the first match, but the felling has been very, very good. There are 30 players and only 15 are going to be playing so obviously not everybody can be picked. We’re all part
of a squad and that’s what matters,” he said.

Life’s been good for him over the last few months. His quartet of
tries against Italy was the dream return for the 27-year-old, who had been injured for much of last season. A good rest, he said, had a lot to do with it.

“Obviously that was particularly nice, but I was happy to get back into the side and get back playing. Maybe last year I hadn’t been playing as
well as I had the season before. I think the fact that I was injured for quite a while and the fact that I had four months away from the game, and away from everything, helped.

“I had a good summer and got away from rugby. I suppose like
anyone you come back a bit fresh, your mind’s a bit clearer and you’ve had a good rest, I don’t think it’s peculiar to rugby, no matter what you do you’ll come back refreshed after a good rest.”

Confidence has a lot to do with good performances, and after 15 wins out of the last 17 matches, the Irish team are oozing it. The Leinster Lion agrees.

“I think confidence is a big factor for everyone. I’m no different, if you’re playing well and you get a few good games under your belt you’ll be better for it, no matter what opposition or what player, everyone is pretty much the same.”

So what about tomorrow? Nervous?

“We’re here in the world cup and everyone just wants to get playing. That tension is going to increase once we see the opening ceremony,”

this stage everyone is looking forward to it. We’ve done a lot of training for it and we’ve been away a lot, we had the ames before the squad was picked but we haven’t played a match in a while.

“There are a lot of guys playing on Saturday for whom this is their first world cup, and for some it will be their last. I suppose it will be a measure of the team and how far we’ve come and on top of that because our group is so hard, it will be a real test for us,” he added.

(In conversation with Tom Felle – The Irish Echo.)