‘It would be pretty surreal’ – Jamison Gibson-Park on facing the All Blacks

Jamison Gibson-Park in Leinster training (Image: ©INPHO/Ben Brady)

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IT is three years since Jamison Gibson-Park has hosted family from back home in Dublin but the Kiwi admits it would be "pretty surreal" to welcome the All Blacks here in exactly one month.

Gibson-Park has 10 Ireland caps to his name since his debut last October against Italy and while yet to face the country of his birth, he could do so several times between next month and next summer, when Ireland travel to New Zealand for a three-Test series.

"Thinking about it now it would be pretty surreal and all I can do for the meantime is put my head down and go to work and get out there," said the Leinster scrum-half.

He got home in early 2020, just before Covid struck.

"We were lucky in that sense that we obviously got to do the whole family thing at that stage but obviously not since then," Gibson-Park said.

"Hopefully at some stage over the next 12 months I'd love for them to be over here. Obviously there's the Irish tour to New Zealand next year, which I'd obviously love to be a part of – I'll be working my butt off to try and get on that anyway.

"We've been doing our thing here – I've got a young family so it can definitely be challenging at times, but it's been a tough one for everyone, really.

"It's been nice to have the crowds back, it makes you feel a little bit normal again."

The former Super Rugby no 9 is still friendly with a number of All Blacks, including TJ Perenara.

AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND – MAY 23: TJ Perenara of the Hurricanes fends off Jamison Gibson-Park of the Blues during the round 15 Super Rugby match between the Blues and the Hurricanes at Eden Park on May 23, 2015 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)
(Image: Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

“A few of the Canes guys and then one of the other guys is Angus Ta’avao, I played with him at the Blues and we lived together, so we’re pretty friendly.

"They’ve obviously got a challenging end to their season with 14 or 15 weeks on the road by the time they’re finished their end-of-year tour.

"That amount of time can be tough for guys with families but it’s just the way things are.”

And the 29-year-old from the Great Barrier Island would love to have crack at them. “Yeah, it would be awesome," he grinned.

Gibson-Park is in line for his second URC start in the first four games as Leinster prepare to host the Scarlets, who are smarting from their heavy home defeat to a young Munster side last weekend.

He will be keen to stay in the plans of Andy Farrell, who has selected him ahead of his Leinster scrum-half colleague Luke McGrath.

With the province, Gibson-Park is sharing game time with McGrath and Nick McCarthy, who has returned from Munster.

The condensed format – and moving the Champions Cup start to after the November Test window – has not impressed players.

"I probably don’t like it as much, I like to have that six games but the competition format has changed and we can’t do anything about that," Gibson-Park said.

Jamison Gibson-Park
(Image: ©INPHO/Billy Stickland)

"Yeah, it’s obviously different, guys don’t get as many minutes at European level before going into an international camp.

"It’s just the way it is, when you look at it from a fans’ perspective you would have liked more opportunities to get out and see the highest level in Europe. It’s a bit of a shame."

In the absence of Conor Murray, who is yet to play this season after his Lions exertions in the summer, Craig Casey has furthered his Ireland credentials in the red jersey.

And, in Ulster, young Nathan Doak has quickly made big headlines with John Cooney absent.

Gibson-Park remarked: “It’s one of those things, isn’t it?

United Rugby Championship, Kingspan Stadium, Belfast 8/10/2021 Ulster vs Benetton Rugby Ulster’s Nathan Doak is presented with the Player of the Match award Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy
(Image: ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy)

"You probably have one eye on the opposition and one on your own role and trying to be the best you can be, which is obviously all you can do.

"Just a balance between not getting side-tracked with what other people are doing and focusing on yourself."

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