Eoin Reddan will face some of his current Ireland team-mates and former Munster colleagues when defending champions Wasps open their Heineken Cup campaign at home to Munster on November 10. IrishRugby.ie caught up with the Limerick-born scrum half to look ahead to that game and reflect back on his World Cup experience.
Playing for Munster is one thing. Having to oppose them is another, but Eoin Reddan is not fazed by Saturday week’s clash when he will come face to face for the first time at European level with Peter Stringer, his main rival for the Ireland number 9 jersey.
Reddan was pleased that five days after Ireland’s crushing World Cup pool defeat at the hands of Argentina he was back in action with Wasps whom he has captained for their last three games.
Before discussing the Munster game, we asked him to reflect on his own and Ireland’s World Cup campaign.
“It was great to get a start against Argentina and France but you are never happy unless you win a game, you just don’t get that feeling of satisfaction,” he said.
“We didn’t perform to our ability during the tournament and we are looking at ourselves still. We lost two rugby matches and it’s hard to say where we went wrong.
“I don’t want to say anymore about it really. I’m not thinking too much about the World Cup now, but it would have been nicer if we had gone a stage further.”
It is easy to see why Reddan’s thoughts have drifted from the World Cup. He is already right in the middle of a busy season with Wasps, with the London club competing for honours in the Guinness Premiership and EDF Energy Cup and the Heineken Cup is also on the horizon.
Asked about his upcoming head-to-head with Stringer and if there would be any banter between the pair, he said: “I don’t think there will. Scrum halves don’t see much of each other these days on the pitch with the big packs in front of us. We are friends and when I took his place (during the World Cup) he was very positive.
“When things get tough for Peter he works harder and when I got his place he was very nice about it and wished me all the best. I appreciated that. He is a lovely fella and I have always got on well with him.”
So who would he rate as the best out-half he has played with? “I have obviously played a lot at Wasps with Alex King and he was very influential in us winning two trophies last season. I know how good Ronan (O’Gara) is, he is a world class player and I feel very comfortable playing with him,” Reddan added.
“It’s good to have people around you whom you respect. I enjoyed playing with him on the two occasions at the World Cup. He’s quite easy to play with and he talks a lot which makes it easier to play with him.”
Turning his attention to this season’s Heineken Cup, Reddan will be taking it one game at a time with Wasps’ pool containing former champions Munster, Llanelli Scarlets, who were semi-finalists last season, and the reigning Challenge Cup champions Clermont Auvergne.
“Every game is a big game for me. I know where I need to be for every game and it can’t be anything but another game for me no matter what competition I am playing in.”
The 26-year-old, who admitted he has not seen any of Munster’s games this season, continued: “I was surprised when we won the Heineken Cup last season. But we seemed to be getting better as the season progressed and we peaked at just the right time.
“A turning point for us was our quarter-final win over Leinster who had been playing great rugby in the pool stages. I would not be afraid to say that Northampton winning down in Biarritz made life a lot easier for us as it was going to be an away semi-final for us.”
Wasps beat Northampton at the semi-final stage last April and the venue for that game, the Ricoh Arena in Coventry, will also host next month’s showdown between Wasps and Munster.
Asked about the switching of the game away from Wasps’ regular home of Adams Park, Reddan said: “I don’t think our supporters will mind that much. It was a business decision. We played there last season and enjoyed it. It is not a massive uprooting.”
Of course, the Irish international will be back at his former home ground of Thomond Park in January for the return fixture in Pool 5. “It will be a tough one. As a young fella I stood on the terraces there and always hoped to play there.”
With Stringer having had the scrum half position “secured” when he was with Munster, Reddan insisted: “For me it was the right thing to move to England, but in general I believe if you are playing in Ireland, you should stay playing in Ireland.”