Having seen his opportunity to pull on the green jersey last season cut short, scrum-half Conor McKee has returned to the Ireland Under-20 set-up infused with renewed determination to make his mark this time around.
McKee was one of seven Ulster players included in last year’s Under-20 Six Nations squad but with the Championship curtailed after just three Rounds due to the Covid-19 pandemic back in March, the 19-year-old was denied the chance to impress for Noel McNamara‘s side.
The cancellation of the 2020 Championship was particularly frustrating for Ireland, who had won their opening three games ahead of outings against Italy and France, but McKee is one of a number of players hoping to make up for lost time in 2021.
McKee was among a squad of 37 that assembled at the IRFU High Performance Centre for a two-day camp before Christmas, and preparations for the 2021 Six Nations – which is due to get underway in February – will intensify over the coming weeks.
“It was good to get in and get learning,” McKee tells IrishRugby.ie. “We got a few of our principles down and then on the second day we had a good hit out, which was a first hit out in a while for a lot of boys.”
With competition for places in the Six Nations squad as high as ever, McKee is focused on seizing his opportunity in 2021.
“Last year I didn’t get the opportunity, especially with Covid cutting the Six Nations short,” he continues. “I’m champing at the bit now to hopefully get into those Match Day squads and get some game time. Coming in, I know exactly what I need to do. Just to be on it from the very start and not take any session for granted and just be on it. You need to be good to go from the start.”