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James Cronin in training. Picture: Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile
James Cronin in training. Picture: Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile
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Ballincollig rugby ace Cronin can't wait to become a Barbarian

JAMES Cronin considers playing for the Barbarians tomorrow night in Thomond Park against Tonga a massive honour and is looking forward to linking up with his pal Donncha O’Callaghan.

The Ballincollig loosehead prop has had a nightmare with injuries for almost 12 months but is relishing the prospect of playing for the most famous club side in the world.

As well as getting valuable game time under his belt after returning from his latest injury, his knee, Cronin is looking forward to playing the brand of rugby the Barbarians have become synonymous with.

“I never thought I’d get to play with Donners again,” said Cronin ahead of tomorrow night’s clash. “I’d be actually very close to him so it’s great to link up with him once more. He’s been with UNICEF in Africa this week. In fairness what a great guy and I couldn’t talk highly enough about him as a professional and as a fella — he’s top of the pops.

“It’s a massive honour to play for the Barbarians and an opportunity to play with some of the game’s greatest. You grow up and see those great teams and tries from the 70s.

“Obviously, I wasn’t born in 1973 but I know all about Gareth Edwards’ famous try in Cardiff. The brand of rugby associated with the Barbarians shows the way rugby can be played, throwing it around and scoring those fantastic tries, like they did on Saturday last. It’s one of those things, if the opportunity arises, you want to grab it with both hands and I feel very fortunate to be invited.

“I was actually invited towards the end of last season but picked up an injury so now it has gone full circle that I am coming back from injury and getting the chance. I had this week off from Munster but I didn’t want to go gallivanting. I just want to get my body right."

Getting back to his best for Munster is the priority. 

"There are big games coming up with Munster and I want to put myself in the best possible position. Getting game time this week is all part of the recovery process.

“The latest injury is the knee, a cartilage that I had complications with. You name it, I’ve had the bad luck with the injuries but there’s a more positive outlook now, back on the pitch and looking forward to Friday night.”