Young wing sensation Calvin Nash celebrated his first try for Munster back in November as the former Crescent College star went over in the province’s bonus point win over Zebre in the Pro 14.
Since then, Nash has been involved in both Munster squads for back to back clashes with Leicester Tigers in the European Champions Cup, although he failed to make the match-day-23 on both occasions. An experience that the former Ireland 20’s captain relished.
“There’ a bit of disappointment obviously, not being picked but at the same time I’ve never been a player at the European stage yet, so it was a great experience to know what’s it’s like from a players point of view and not just a spectators, the crowd is actually something else when you are on the pitch. It’s great to see it from another point of view and to have that experience under your belt, it will give me a bit more comfort if the opportunity does arise”
It won’t be easy for Nash to break into this Munster side on a regular basis, with four Ireland Internationals in Keith Earls, Darren Sweetnam, Simon Zebo and Andrew Conway ahead of him in the pecking order, as well as the in-form Alex Wootton. With that in mind, the twenty-year-old is focused on trying to make an impact whenever he gets the chance.
“With Munster at the moment it’s like that in every position, back row, everywhere there’s a lot of competition there. You know when you are a sub in a game you’ll need to make a big big impact, if you’re not making an impact you’re not going to be starting next week. That’s what most subs will be thinking of I want to be starting next week, and that’s what my job is really. I want to come on and bring energy to the squad. A lot of the lads are tired when you come on, so you want to try and lift them with you”
New head coach Johann van Graan has shown that he’s willing put his faith in some of his younger stars, with the likes of centre Sam Arnold (21) and winger Alex Wootton (23) being handed their first European starts for the province earlier in the month, Nash took encouragement from seeing both men in action.
“They’re both great lads and they work so hard on and off the pitch so it’s great even learning from them because they have that little bit of experience over me. Its great to see younger lads taking their opportunity and really doing well on the pitch. I’m very happy for them”
Van Graan is yet to taste defeat since his arrival at the province and Limerickman, Nash has been impressed by what he has seen of the South African so far. “He’s a really nice guy, he’s down to earth and focused on what he wants to do. I think its going to be really good having Johann around. I like the way he thinks and the way he wants to move forward with the team”
As one of the youngest members of the squad, Nash will not only be looking to the coaching ticket for guidance. There are plenty of experienced veterans within the setup who will have invaluable advice to pass down to the younger generation.
“Coming up its so handy just talking to the likes of Keith Earls, Zebo, Conway and all the older lads, literally every single one, there are no egos whatsoever and they’re so helpful to talk to and chat to. If you’re stuck they never get frustrated with you or anything. They’re very helpful, the whole team”
When Nash isn’t involved at provincial or academy level, he plays his club rugby in Division 1A of the All Ireland League with Young Munster. Once the bedrock of Irish rugby, the club game has lost some of its glamour over the years for various reasons. However, the young Cookie still enjoys taking to the pitch at the famous Tom Clifford Park.
“Club rugby is great. We’ve had a few ups and downs with Young Munster now, we’re after getting a win or two under our belt so hopefully things will turn around for us. Club rugby is always great going back to, always a great atmosphere at home games. Its good to play with a few of your mates as well you know and grew up playing rugby with.”
— Munster Rugby (@Munsterrugby) December 21, 2017
Nash played in the Black and Amber of Young Munster for a Limerick derby against arch rivals Garryowen on November 10th in the All Ireland League, in front of a few hundred soaking wet fans in Dooradoyle, before making the trip to Parma two weeks later, where he claimed his first try for Munster against Zebre in the Guinness Pro 14. A unique and refreshing scenario, especially in the context of professional sport in the modern era.
“It is actually is strange. Sometimes it doesn’t feel like you’re playing a pro 14 match, you’re going from match to match it doesn’t really seem as if you’re gone up a step. Sometimes It feels like you’ve gone from one pitch to another and there isn’t much of a difference. Other times you would be like how was I playing AIL last week?”
2017 has been a fruitful year for Nash, captaining his country in the U20 Six Nations, playing in a junior World Cup in Georgia, claiming his first Munster appearance and try as well as claiming a B & I Cup. However, the twenty-year-old will hope that there is much more to come from 2018 onwards.
“I’ve been very happy with how things have gone. I’ve had a lot of support when I’ve come in through the academy and I feel the staff standard in Munster has really gone up, so I can only thank the system we have in Munster for really binging me on. I’ll work as hard as they push me as well so I’m really happy with how the year has gone and the opportunities I’ve been given”