Eoin Reddan will not let his focus slip this week despite the fact that his head coach at Wasps, Shaun Edwards, will be standing in the red corner at Croke Park on Saturday.
Edwards has so far made a success of his part-time role as assistant coach to Warren Gatland in the Wales set-up, but the unbeaten Dragons will face their toughest test to date in this year’s Six Nations when they take on Ireland.
Eoin Reddan holds Edwards in high regard, particularly for his coaching expertise which has helped the Limerick man become first choice with both Wasps and Ireland, as well as a Heineken Cup winner.
“Shaun’s an honest guy. He’s critical of people but I think, deep down, he’s always trying to make people better and that’s the key,” said the fast-breaking scrum half.
“On the other hand, we’ve got a big game against Wales this week. I’m not going to thinking about how great Shaun Edwards is. The focus this week is on us and what we can do to win this game.
“Obviously, I think Shaun is one of the top coaches defensively in the world. He’s changed the way Wales defend and that’s very obvious to anyone. They used to go up and out and now they come up and in.”
With Reddan’s association with Wasps, it would be easy to presume that he is familiar with new Welsh boss Gatland, who coached the London club to three Premiership titles (2003, 2004 and 2005) and a Heineken Cup (2005).
Reddan joined Wasps from Munster in the summer of 2005 after Gatland had left the club but he did have dealings with the New Zealander over the telephone.
“I don’t know Warren. I spoke to Warren twice on the phone. Once was to tell me he was keen to have me at Wasps and the next day he was telling me Matt Dawson was coming and I didn’t need to come anymore! That was the first time,” said the 27-year-old, who captained Wasps earlier this season in the absence of Lawrence Dallaglio.
“The next time I spoke to him he was just kind of giving me the heads-up that Shaun was looking at me and that he was leaving and he thought the move would be good for me.”
Reddan, who is currently studying for his Tax Consultancy exams, is certainly in a good place both mentally and physically right now – but that was not always the case and he endured a tough time when struggling for game-time at Munster. Thankfully, he has come out the other side and is now playing some of the best rugby of his career.
“Sometimes you can get into a kind of rut mentally and you look at things the wrong way. I think I probably did a bit of that when I was at Munster in my second year,” he admitted.
“I think I got that part of it right at Wasps and it allowed me to be picked (for Ireland), and I definitely think it stood with me all through.
“Even through times in Ireland when everybody would be telling me here: ‘oh, how come you aren’t in? And why aren’t you getting a chance?’
“That’s not the kind of thing you need to be worrying about. I think if you’re patient, work hard and keep an open mind and you allow the chances to come, then they can happen. I think I probably got that bit wrong at Munster.
“I didn’t really have any pang or anything (leaving) because I needed a change and I knew I needed a change. I felt I just wasn’t getting something right, a change is what I needed and it’s worked out well.”