The World Cup warm-up match against Italy at the Aviva Stadium 12 months ago will be remembered for the cuts in Joey Carbury’s injury in Japan and what he has done since then.
It was his Ireland debut for Mike Haley. It was also an opportunity to show Joe Schmidt that he wanted to go to the Far East from the sale to join Munster and enter the Irish system.
He was on the Ireland World Cup coaching staff in mid-June last year, so he was hoping to reach the final.
But in the end it was not so, because Schmidt went without him.
Haley now has to add a second hat when she returns from injury on a trip to the Park Y Scarlett tomorrow.
“Yeah, it definitely gave you a taste,” said Fullback, reflecting on events from a year ago.
“I did the whole World Cup camp, played that game, and then you’re declining. I think it almost gives me the desire to go back to where you were.
“Last year I thought I was playing very good rugby and had some problems and mysteries, and they may have helped me not to actually perform and what I could do.
“That time was skipped – well, I came back and I was injured – but the body now looks amazing, it’s like rushing to go, and I know what that goal is to be there, I want to live in that environment where I want to.
“But it plays well for Monster every weekend and gets a place in the starting team for Monster.
“So this is an end goal, I want to achieve. But there are some steps I need to take. ”
Haley appeared for the province for the first time since last weekend, in a Munster A runout against Conach at Thomont Park.
Within weeks of resuming provincial training, he was sidelined with a calf injury and was suspended from the end of Munster’s PRO14 campaign in August and September, culminating in a semi – final defeat to Leinster.
Summer was not a total write-off – he admits he “valued” the extra time he spent at home with his partner and younger son for six months.
“You really start doing other things around the house and exploring other ways outside of rugby,” Haley said.
“At the same time, you want to go back, you want to go again.
“So it’s very mixed, but it’s enjoyable, especially when my little one started to walk at that time personally and now he’s jumping, I’m really looking at home, it’s very good.
“I think you can see it both ways, but I will take the positive out of it.
“You appreciate the creases so much. They should be highly rewarded and the work they do is incredible! “
After two years with Monster, with a better understanding of game management, he believes his game is more mature and now Hayley hopes Reds fans can see him as the best.
“Some aspects of my game may be better when I get back to sales, but I need to get around a bit,” said the 26-year-old, who was born in Preston.
“I know very well how they want to implement game plans and not get out of my own bat, run holes that are not there and harm the team.
“It was a big learning curve in my first year and I enjoyed it the second year. I thought some of my rugby was pretty good and is now looking to back it up to my third year. “
He hopes to really show now what he can do in an aggressive sense. Haley is proud to be working with Stephen Larkham, and wants to play again as the first receiver, and is at the heart of the Reds’ offensive drama.
“I did a lot of things when I was on sale and I don’t know why I went out of it in my first year,” he admitted.
“But of course coming into my second year, ‘This is something I have to do, something that can help the team’.
“I enjoy doing it, I enjoy holding hands with the ball, I want to do more if possible
“Do not exclude JJ (Hanrahan) or anyone, obviously, as long as it’s available within the system, I used to enjoy it.”
Haley did not return home to England during the shutdown, and is now looking forward to the novelty of a voyage across the Irish Sea, the destination of Swansea.
“I think this is actually a credit to what’s going on around PRO14. We have been tested every week. There are zero cases in the senior squad so far,” he said.
“We mainly travel in a bubble environment, where there is a charter flight, staying in a hotel, playing a game, straight to the airport and home. We don’t go there and have coffee in Swansea, so dizzy, stay there for a job and get that job done.
“I think the Scarlets are a great aspect, up to 15 from their front row, full of internationalism.
“This is an old place that is very hard to go by, and in the first round of PRO14 both sides go to two full forces opposing each other on the same conference, so it speaks for itself.
“We’re going to have a big challenge, and that’s what we train every week, and all we can do now is control what we do.
“We are training well. Everything looks great. Obviously we will be ready for a fight on Saturday.”