Monikers, Iron Mike and mishaps with boots all come up in conversation with the Test No 2

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Downtime with… Leinster and Ireland hooker Sean Cronin

What’s the funniest thing you’ve heard in a game?

I played with Mike McCarthy at Connacht and Leinster, and once he screamed out, “I have him in the mousetrap, I have him in the mousetrap” as he was making a choke tackle. It made me stand back to work out what he was saying! He’s a character.

Who are the jokers in the squad?

In the Leinster squad you have Fergus McFadden, Noel Reid and, probably unbeknownst to him, James Ryan! He makes jokes without realising. The other day he asked one of the boys who’d just had a baby, “How’s Jimmy getting on?” The baby’s name is Freddie, so all the boys burst out laughing.

Any practical jokes you can tell us?

This would be more in Ireland camp. We get our laundry back in brown bags with our name on and some get kicked about. Johnny Sexton’s and Peter O’Mahony’s get attacked the most. I think because they give out most in training, lads take it as an opportunity to get them back.

Do you know who the pranksters are?

Conor Murray and Keith Earls are on the wanted list, but unless CCTV is installed no one will fess up. They’d have to be caught in the act.

If you could be one of your team-mates, who would it be and why?

That’s a tough one. It would probably be Johnny Sexton. He’s pretty good at rugby and he’s got loads of money!

Leinster and Ireland hooker Sean Cronin

Man at No 10: Johnny Sexton breaks against England (Getty Images)

Do you have any nicknames?

I could write a book on my nicknames! The most common is Nugget, which goes back to the 2011 World Cup. Leo Cullen, now my coach, came up with it and the thing with nicknames
is not to react. I must have reacted badly and it’s stuck. I get Barrel – to do with my body shape – and others.

What really annoys you?

Traffic, bad drivers, lack of punctuality. People being late grinds my gears.

Do you have any phobias?

I don’t like heights at all. The guys go bungee-jumping and stuff when we’re away, but I don’t have the stomach for it. I’m happy just to go for a round of golf.

What’s your most embarrassing moment?

I’ve had a few! I hadn’t been part of the Ireland set-up for long when we were doing the warm-up at Croke Park and I was so pumped up that I left my runners on.

We were about to go out onto the pitch and Declan Kidney, who was the coach at the time, came up to me to say, “You’ve still got your runners on.” I had to turn around to put my boots on. It could have been worse – it could have happened in the tunnel in front of the opposition – but it was pretty embarrassing.

Who would be your three dream dinner guests?

I’d pick a musician – Anthony Kiedis, the lead singer of the Red Hot Chilli Peppers. Mike Tyson is a controversial character but I think he’d have some interesting stories. And I’d throw Usain Bolt in there. Again, he’s an interesting character with what he’s accomplished.

Leinster and Ireland hooker Sean Cronin

Dinner entertainment: Red Hot Chili Peppers singer Anthony Kiedis (Getty Images)

If you could have one superpower…

Just to be able to beat the traffic, to be able to fly. From where I live, I could get to training pretty quick, and home again.

Who’d you like to be stuck in a lift with?

I’m into history and I think Barack Obama would be good. He’d have a lot of interesting stories to tell – and he could call the CIA to get us out of there.

If your house was on fire, what would you save? People and pets are safe.

I’d probably have to grab my first cap off the wall. It’s hanging up in a frame.

What’s the silliest thing you’ve bought?

My wife would be good at this and point out 100 things I’ve bought that are stupid. I bought a pair of Kurt Geiger boots in Australia last summer. They were pretty expensive and I’ve not taken them out of the box.

You could have a race after dinner…

He’s getting a bit older now. I might be able to challenge him!

What’s your guilty pleasure?

Pizza! A pepperoni pizza after matches is a real guilty pleasure. Chocolate too. Years ago at Munster we’d have pizzas after matches but those days are gone.

What would you like to achieve outside of rugby?

I’m trying to finish my degree in business, but I’d like to be a teacher so I’d go back and do a post-grad course. I’m really interested in history and would like to get into that field, to teach history. n

This article originally appeared in the February 2019 edition of Rugby World magazine.

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