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Sunday 4 December 2016

Leinster hooker Tracy gives coach Cullen the right kind of headache

Leinster rugby players Aaron Dundon and James Tracy visited the Bank of Ireland Summer Camp in North Kildare RFC earlier this year: Seb Daly / SPORTSFILE
Leinster rugby players Aaron Dundon and James Tracy visited the Bank of Ireland Summer Camp in North Kildare RFC earlier this year: Seb Daly / SPORTSFILE

"It's my aim, to be number one," said James Tracy.

The Leinster hooker is two and a half years into his transition from loose-head prop.

Formerly of Newbridge College, the 24-year-old was not backward about coming forward on his stated ambition.

In these days of talking up everyone but yourself, there is absolutely nothing wrong with not just setting personal goals, but putting them out there for all the world to hear.

There isn't a professional rugby player worth his weight in salt that doesn't start out with the highest ambitions.

Tracy is no different. It all begins with Leinster. And he doesn't mind letting Sean Cronin and Richardt Strauss know about it.

"I am not stupid. I most likely won't be involved next week for obvious reasons. They are seasoned internationals," he said.

"But the long-term goal, if I can keep improving, hopefully, I will be the one who's getting picked."

He has built up game time through 19, 22, 40 and 66 minutes in his four caps this season, earning a man of the match accolade on his first start against The Scarlets on Friday night.

There were two standout poaches in desperate defence which Strauss would have been proud to make.

"We have a next ball focus," he said.

"I am not going to dwell on a missed throw or a missed tackle. You focus on the next drill, the next job. You've just got to move on."

Of course, this is easier done when surrounded by proven internationals, like Mike Ross and Cian Healy.

The surge in confidence is in danger of stalling in the weeks ahead as the struggle for game time will return.

The many matches on the horizon in the PRO12 mean Tracy could be back in Blue before too long.

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