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Kelleher eyes permanent position after first Ireland start

Kelleher eyes permanent position after first Ireland start

Kelleher eyes permanent position after first Ireland start

Ireland hooker Ronan Kelleher may have only made his first international start at the weekend but he is already targeting making the position his own.

The 22-year-old made his eagerly-anticipated first start for Ireland in their Autumn Nations Cup win over Wales and impressed as he successfully made ten tackles, ran for 22 metres and registered five carries to boot.

Having been backed for stardom by international and club coaches, the Leinster man made his first appearances for Ireland earlier this year during the beginning of the Guinness Six Nations.

And given that the spot at hooker hasn’t properly been filled since Rory Best’s retirement, in addition to the current absence of Niall Scannell, Kelleher believes he can lay claim to the role on a more permanent basis with strong performances over the next few weeks.

“It was incredibly physical [the contest with Wales], they’re a good side but I enjoyed every second of it,” Kelleher said.

“It was really about seizing the opportunity, trying to potentially put a marker down or at least stake a claim for the jersey.

“It’s a super competitive position with myself, Heff [Dave Heffernan] and Rob [Herring], obviously JT’s [James Tracey] involved as well.”

For all of the physicality on show in Ireland’s opening round contest with Wales though, Kelleher knows that tougher tests lie in wait with England next up.

The 22-year-old was a replacement when the two sides last squared off, as Ireland suffered a 24-12 defeat to Eddie Jones’ men in February, but he will be aiming to be part of a better showing this time around.

Kelleher added: “I played over there in my last game in the Six Nations and it’s tough, it’s physical but we’re well up for the challenge.”

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