Published: 02:36 | 6/6/17

Marmion relishing step up with Ireland

Kieran Marmion is relishing the prospect of being a senior player on Ireland's tour of the United States and Japan.

Ireland coach Joe Schmidt has included eight uncapped players in his squad for the three-Test tour, with John Cooney, Dave Heffernan, Rory O'Loughlin, Andrew Porter, James Ryan, Rory Scannell, Jacob Stockdale and Kieran Treadwell all receiving call-ups.

Schmidt has 11 players on British and Irish Lions duty, while Jamie Heaslip, Rob Kearney and Sean Cronin are injured and Andrew Trimble and Donnacha Ryan not selected.

Connacht scrum-half Marmion, who won the last of his 13 caps in Ireland's 13-9 Six Nations win over England at the Aviva Stadium in March, is looking forward to the challenge of stepping up to become a dressing-room leader.

"Joe has challenged a few of us who probably wouldn't have been senior players before to step up," the 25-year-old said.

"I need to kick on from where I've been, to show that I can consistently put in performances.

"There are a lot of new faces here but I should have a bit more of an understanding of what's going on.

"There’s a lot of stuff Joe asks of you on the training pitch that maybe I haven't been asked before.

"They're different questions he's asking. You've got to be really switched on, otherwise he will catch you out."

Marmion was an unused reserve on the tour of the USA and Canada four years ago, but insists the experience helped him integrate into the squad and stood him in good stead when he finally made his debut against Argentina in 2014.

"I was pretty young back then and it was a bit daunting, but over time you get to learn things and that was the best thing about it," he conntinued.

"I probably knew I wasn't going to start as there were three No 9s there, but I still hoped to get game time. I guess I got to see a lot of Canada and America. [Houston Texans NFL player] JJ Watt looked after us and took us to his house, so there were some good life experiences.

"But Joe has said the same here, he can't just hand out caps, you've got to earn them as well.

Ireland face the US Eagles in New Jersey on 10 June before flying to Japan for Test matches on 17 June at the Ecopa Stadium in Shizuoka, and at Tokyo's Ajinomoto Stadium on 24 June.

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