‘I’ll try pick his brain’ – Wycherley excited to work with O’Connell again

FINEEN WYCHERLEY HAS been in and around Ireland camps before, Andy Farrell calling up the versatile Munster forward as part of his wider training squad in previous windows to give him a taste of the environment.

It makes a difference, and as a host of new faces arrived at Carton House last week, Wycherley at least felt like he had his bearings.

“I have only realised now when I’m up here,” Wycherley says.

“Even just knowing your way around the hotel, things like that. I know it’s only small things but knowing one of two different fellas who are here now, a few of the guys would have been here back in the Autumn internationals, some of them are gone to the Lions, some of them aren’t in the squad or whatever, but there is a good network of lads that are here from the last time I was here.

“It definitely makes it easier.”

Unlike his previous experiences with Ireland, this time Wycherley’s time on the training pitch is geared towards winning his first international cap. The 23-year-old comes into this international window on the back of a strong season with Munster, leaving him well-placed to hit another career milestone across the games against Japan and the USA.

With that in mind, Wycherley says he’s striving to roll up his sleeves and make the right impressions.

“I suppose just putting yourself out there, trying to interact with lads, get to know them, putting yourself in uncomfortable positions, chatting to different people or whatever,” he continues.

“But then it’s also the volume of information, different calls in the lineout and general play, kicking calls, where the ball is going to be played off the top or mauls or whatever. There is just a range of different things you have to take on board pretty quickly, but it’s a good challenge. It’s enjoyable.

Wycherley featured 21 times for Munster last season. Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

“It’s me just challenging myself to try and be a bit more open to interactions to different people. I think that’s important for the team.

“So just trying to put yourself out there and get to know the lads that you are actually playing with if you get a chance to play in any of those international games, knowing the guys around you makes you work harder.

“It will just mean more to you when you are on the pitch, so that’s what we are trying to achieve.”


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It also provides Wycherley with another opportunity to work with Ireland forwards coach Paul O’Connell.

“I worked with him a small bit when I was in the Munster Academy. He was in with Munster for a bit and I was in second year of the Academy, I would have done a bit of lineout work and things with him, but not a whole pile.”

“It will be very interesting (to work with him) especially around the lineout for me, just trying to learn a lot from him around lineout calling and things like that.

“He loves information and passing it on. I’m just going to draw as much as I can over the short period that we have. I will try pick his brain and take all the benefits with it.”

Wycherley featured 21 times for Munster in the season just ended, including 12 starts, and while he can play in the back row or the second row, most of his rugby over the last year has come with either the number four or five on his back.

“There is different roles for each second-row,” he explains.

“For us (Munster), JK (Jean Kleyn) is playing lock, number four, for us. He a workhorse in fairness, he works incredibly hard and is incredibly dominant around the scrum. 

“Looking at that four-lock, he is the guy doing a lot of the dirty work, getting to a lot of breakdowns, the hard yards and carries.

“For the five-lock, you go back down through the years, even Billy (Holland), he is that line-out operator, managing the forwards, very tactical kind of player more than maybe the dirty work as you might call it at the breakdowns. He is more of an organiser and a dictator around what we do in different parts the pitch and what we do at line-out. That’s the difference between four and five, that’s how I’d see it.”

And while Wycherley is aiming to win that first Test cap, he also feels that just being in the environment is beneficial to his game.

“I suppose (I am looking to) grow as a player and learn from the guys around me. You’re in with the best of the best. You’re very lucky to train with these guys for the next couple of weeks.

“Obviously I would be honoured to get a cap and to play if the opportunity comes. But other than that, it’s just training and gaining a lot from these guys and pull different information and tactics.” 

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