Fresh from appearing in all five games of Ireland’s Six Nations, Finlay Bealham returned to Connacht with panache in his steps.
Ealham is currently enjoying the best period of his career and if he can maintain this fine form, particularly in the huddle, he will increase Connacht’s chances of upsetting Leinster tomorrow.
No longer alternating between loosehead and tighthead, Bealham has become a staple in the Connacht No 3 shirt and is hoping to end the season well to guarantee himself more playing time on Ireland’s summer tour to New Zealand.
“What I enjoy most is coming every day and having a smile on my face, partying with the lads and enjoying the process,” said Bealham, 30.
“I’ve been lucky enough to play a couple of caps for Ireland in the last 12-18 months, which is obviously brilliant and a huge honour. I play my best rugby when I enjoy it.
“If I was stiff and nervous and in my shell I probably wouldn’t play as well, but I’m a lot more confident that I can really express my character in the group. If that translates into good performances and gives the guys an advantage, it’s brilliant.”
Bealham will find many familiar faces on the front row of the Aviva Stadium but he’s playing with more confidence than ever and relishing the challenge.
“I was going to say I’m another year older and another year wiser, but I don’t know which is wiser,” he smiled.
“I just enjoy the environment that Andy Friend and the coaches have created and I just enjoy being able to be myself.
“One of the best pieces of advice I have is to just be yourself and enjoy it. That’s what I try to do day in and day out and try to bring that energy to the guys and enjoy the work.
“I’ve been very fortunate to be there for Ireland for the last 18 months and a lot of that has to do with my preparation and attitude. I suppose I’m more of a senior leader in the squad now.
“We still have to get one level better and we have to take it to another level in all areas of our game, defensively, in set pieces and in attack. We have to meet fire with fire,” added Bealham.
“I’ve been involved in a couple of teams that have beaten Leinster over the years. Every time we’ve beaten them we’ve been really prepared and everyone is in their detail early in the week so we can deliver that physicality.
“We need to take our game to a whole new level. We have to do it ourselves.”
https://www.independent.ie/sport/rugby/champions-cup/finlay-bealham-we-will-have-to-raise-our-game-to-a-new-level-41552270.html Finlay Bealham: “We need to take our game to the next level”