Munster centre Sam Arnold training with the Ireland 6 Nations squad at Carton House
HE began the season playing Ulster Bank League rugby for Garryowen, but Munster centre Sam Arnold’s meteoric rise has continued in recent weeks when he spent time with the Ireland 6 Nations Championship squad at Carton House.
Arnold was red carded in Munster’s New Year’s Day defeat to Ulster in Kingspan Stadium. He marked his return to action by bagging two tries in the win over Zebre last weekend.
“It is good to be back playing with the boys and I sorta felt like I owed it to make up to them,” Arnold said.
"I probably put the blame for the New Year's Day game on myself for us losing that match, so it was nice to bounce back and get the bonus point.
"It is always nice to get a couple of tries. I was actually pretty disappointed that I turned the ball over a few too many times. The main thing for me is that we are winning and that we are getting bonus points.
“We are working with new combinations as well at the minute, so it is great to see guys getting chances.
"It was great to see Dan (Goggin) back and play with him for the first time for Munster. He had a nasty knee injury that I actually had last year, so I know how long that road to come back, so it was awesome to see him back playing.
“Dan is an unbelievable player, he is a big fella, but he has great hands, he has a great kicking game as well and you can see how physical he was, so like I think it is really exciting for us to have that competition in the midfield at the minute.
“It is guys like myself and Dan trying to push on and push Rory (Scannell) and Jaco (Taute) and Chris (Farrell) to the next level and hopefully push on ourselves as well.
"They are three international players, Jaco, Chris and Rory, they are quality players, but we would be a very close knit teams as well.
"Guys know if they slip up there is someone there to slot straight back in and I think it is important to have that kind of pressure environment within the squad.
“You like at the depth of the French teams and a team like Saracens for example would have, I think we are starting to get that now.
“I think it is important to have that competition, but I think it would be rare that five of us are fit at the same time.”
Arnold joined Munster at the start of last season, but knee injuries seriously curtailed the centre's involvement, making just one senior competitive appearance against Treviso in Thomond Park in November.
In contrast, the former Ireland U-20 international has made seven starts for the province since November, including the two big Champions Cup fixtures against Leicester in December.
Arnold recently signed a two-year contract extension with Munster which will keep him at the province until June 2020.
Arnold said: "I think I had pretty much 18 months on and off with injury, so it was nice to string a run of games together.
“I think this is the most games I have probably put together in a season so far in my career, so hopefully long may it continue.
"Ya, I was playing All-Ireland League for Garryowen at the start of the season, so it is funny how quickly things can change, I suppose."
Arnold said he really enjoyed the time he spent in the Ireland 6 Nations camp in recent weeks.
"Ya, it was a really good experience. It was great to be up there and get a feel for the environment during a match week, the guys were unbelievable. They helped me out a lot up there.
"It was good to have the older heads around, like Murray and Earlsie there as well. If I had a question they would be the first lads I would go to and ask.
“It was awesome to have them and obviously Pete (O’Mahony) as well. There is no better man to ask than Pete as well."
"I had a good chat with Andy Farrell when I was there. I have spoken to Joe. I think I know what Joe wants me to do going forward.
“I sat down with Andy when I was there and we discussed what I need to do to try and take my game to the next level, so I would have that in the back of my mind when I am playing, 100%."