Six Nations: Stuart McCloskey unsure why Joe Schmidt overlooked him but pleased with his current involvement with Ireland

Ireland centre Stuart McCloskey admits he is not sure why former head coach Joe Schmidt chose to overlook him in the past and feels his game has developed since.

Current head coach Andy Farrell has opted for McCloskey far more frequently, and the robust runner is set to continue in the Irish midfield for Saturday’s blockbuster Test against Ireland.

Happy with current selection

When asked what Farrell sees in him and what Schmidt did not, the centre was not sure but is delighted to be getting a run in the current set-up.

“I don’t know, maybe I’m a better player now than I was back then,” the centre said.

“I think my game has improved. There’s obviously been a lot of competition in there. Maybe I just didn’t fit Joe’s eye. But here, that’s in the past, not something to worry about now.

“I probably had a bit more hard feelings at the time but I’m a bit older, that’s the way it is sometimes, you don’t get the luck, you don’t get the rub of the green.

“It will be five (starts) in a row at the weekend, so it’s a nice place to be in.

“I feel a lot more comfortable now with my game and what I can do, whether it’s the first or 80th minute, whereas I was over-thinking it when I was younger.”

Relishing the opportunity

The Ulster star has filled in well for the injured Robbie Henshaw, staying ahead of Bundee Aki in the pecking order.

With seven years between Test caps, running out for Ireland is that much more important for the centre.

“It’s not the end of the world, it’s only rugby at the end of the day, but I put a lot of effort into my game so it’s nice to get games and to show what I can do,” he said.

“I think everyone relishes playing for Ireland, it’s the pinnacle of your game and where I wanted to get to, so it’s nice.

“I’d say it makes me relish it a bit more now and I do appreciate it a lot more.”

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