Irish U20 star Conor Phillips
TALENTED Limerick winger Conor Phillips is more than happy to answer the call, whether it’s from Ireland U20s or Young Munster.
Nineteen year-old Phillips, a renowned try scorer, started for Ireland U20s in their opening two fixtures in the Six Nations Championship, including their stirring opening night victory over England at a delirious Musgrave Park.
For the past two weekends, former Crescent College star Phillips has lined out for Young Munster in the All-Ireland League, playing a key rule in their Division 1A derby win over local rivals Garryowen at Clifford Park on Friday night.
Born in London, to a South African father and Limerick mother, Conor Phillips and his family moved back to Shannonside when he was 18 months old.
His love of rugby began at Young Munster where he played from the time he was six years of age until he moved on to secondary school at Crescent College Comprehensive where he was a stand-out performer at both Junior Cup and Senior Cup level.
Phillips said: “We lost Junior Cup and Senior Cup finals to CBC, with the Senior Cup final defeat coming in 2016. We lost by a point (9-8). That was hard to take. We came close, but didn’t quite managed to get over the line.”
Phillips’ excellent run of form was rewarded with appearances for Ireland at both U18 and U-19 level.
This year, he was included in Noel McNamara’s Ireland U20s squad for the Six Nations.
Munster Sub-Academy member Phillips said: “It was a dream come true to get the cap against England. It was unreal, probably the best atmosphere I have ever played in. I have played in Irish Independent Park three or four times, it was unbelievable.
“The fact it was England made it sweeter. The odds were stacked against us, but we always believed we could win. The night before the lads were saying, ‘don’t wake up tomorrow thinking we’re not going to win this match’, we always believed. It was great.
“It was nice to be selected again for the game against Scotland.
“Our coach Noel McNamara was saying during the week that he had been talking to Joe Schmidt about the secret behind their Grand Slam win last season and it was because they had the best ‘bibs’ (substitutes) in the World. When you get out on the pitch you have to keep going, you have to keep biding your time and when you get that call up you have to take it with both hands.
“Not being involved against Italy (last Friday night) was tough, but it is nice to be part of nights like this Young Munster against Garryowen in the AIL. It was unbelievable.
“We were confident going into tonight’s game. We did go behind early and all season we have been our own worst enemy, but tonight we stuck to our systems and always believed we were going to win and eventually it told.
“I believe we can get ourselves away from the relegation zone. There are only five games remaining, They are huge. It is all about finishing as high as we can, playing the best rugby we can, we have the squad to do it, so I believe we can do it.
“Getting back into the Ireland U20s matchday squad for the remaining Six Nations games is a goal of course. Hopefully, back in camp, I can perform and push my way into the squad for France.
“Having so many Munster guys involved in the Ireland U20s makes it more comfortable playing on the pitch and for the first two weeks we had a back three of Jonathan Wren and Jake Flannery, all Munster and all good friends.”