Ireland centre Stuart McCloskey revealed he had considered retiring from international rugby as he savoured the special memory of making a World Cup debut in front of his newborn son.
McCloskey came off the bench to replace the injured Mack Hansen in the first half of Saturday evening’s 36-14 win over Scotland in Paris to help his country set up a quarter-final clash with New Zealand.
The 31-year-old Ulster player has endured a stop-start Test career and been forced to wait for opportunities behind Bundee Aki, Garry Ringrose and Robbie Henshaw.
With Henshaw sidelined and Hansen needing to be withdrawn, he finally made his first appearance in France, an occasion made even more memorable by the presence of 11-day-old Kasper, who was carried on to the Stade de France pitch at full-time.
“I’d say you’ll look at those pictures in 20-odd years and it will be pretty cool,” said McCloskey, who required special permission to return home for the birth. “He was fast asleep, he seemed all right
“I got home last Monday and my wife gave birth on the Tuesday. It worked out really well and then I was obviously back into the camp at the end of the week, and it was an unfortunate injury to get me in, but it’s been a brilliant week.”
McCloskey made his Ireland debut in 2016 but his cameo against the Scots was only his 15th cap.
“I always look back to what it was before last summer and I wasn’t involved at all and I was thinking about calling it a day with Ireland stuff and I came back in, played a load of games and finally became a part of the team I thought, so it’s nice.
“My goal was to get to a World Cup and I made that and whatever happens from now I’m fine with it.
“I know if you put me on the field I will perform well, but if it doesn’t happen, it doesn’t happen. I’m not going to sit in the shadows and be angry about it.”