Buckley to fight for place
Tony Buckley believes he can establish himself as a first-choice option in the Ireland front row if he is given a solid run of games.
Last Updated: 22/09/11 5:28pm
Tony Buckley believes he can establish himself as a first-choice option in the Ireland front row if he is given a solid run of games in the starting XV.
The 30-year-old has often hinted at his promise - most notably against the All Blacks in New Zealand last year - but the glimpses of his true ability have been fleeting.
By his own admission, Buckley has struggled for consistency and time seems to be running out for him to reach his full potential.
But he will be given an opportunity to press his claims for more regular inclusion when he starts Sunday's World Cup Pool C clash with Russia, a chance is determined not to pass up.
"I have been all over the place. Last November against South Africa I played brutal and got injured," the former Munster player said.
"Two weeks later against Argentina I was back and we did well, driving them off the ball. There were a few good things that happened.
"Two weeks after that I played the Ospreys and that was a nightmare, personally.
"It's been improving over the last few months. I just need a run of games and staying injury free. Trying to get games at tighthead is what I want.
"Last year up to the Toulon game at Thomond Park I was feeling really good, scoring two tries.
"I was looking forward to boxing on from there, but then my momentum was killed after that. Getting that place and staying there is crucial.
"If I can string five games together, then we'll see what happens."
Buckley has a tough task if he is to usurp Mike Ross at tighthead, with the Leinster prop almost single-handedly turning the scrum into an effective offensive weapon.
And if he must continue in the support role, then Buckley will reluctantly accept the position.
He added: "The back role is something I'm used to. I was back-up to John Hayes at Munster for years.
"I got a few games for Ireland but have started slipping back into that role. Mike has had some great matches over the last few months, so I'm stuck as fringe squad player.
"It's not where I want to be, but it's where I am. I don't plan on being in this position for long.
"If I get a run of games then hopefully I'll be able to put some pressure on Mike Ross. I can't be too angry about it, I'm away from home for six weeks so being angry isn't a good place to be.
"You have to stay calm and enjoy yourself. If you're bitter around the training field you won't enjoy yourself.
"The management are good, they're open to talking to you and will tell you exactly where you are."