Daily Mirror (Northern Ireland) - - SPORT - BY MICHAEL SCULLY

JACK MCGRATH found him­self out of Ire­land con­tention last week - and ad­mit­ted: “It was hard to take”.

The Leinster prop (left) has been Joe Sch­midt’s go-to tight­head prop since a se­ries of in­juries weak­ened Cian Healy’s po­si­tion for province and coun­try.

Now 28, Mcgrath made his Ire­land de­but against Samoa in the Novem­ber se­ries four years ago and for the past cou­ple of years has been a reg­u­lar fix­ture.

But last week, in the build-up to the South Africa game, he was on the out­side look­ing in as Healy started and Dave Kil­coyne came off the bench.

It was the con­se­quence of a late re­turn to fit­ness after in­jury and an ex­tended break after com­ing on in all three Li­ons Tests in New Zealand.

“I hadn’t trained the week be­fore and the stars prob­a­bly aligned a lit­tle bit against me com­ing back,” ac­knowl­edged Mcgrath, who is set to start against Fiji on Satur­day.

“The two boys had a lit­tle bit more game time com­ing into the se­ries. Then not train­ing that week, not be­ing able to put your hand up for se­lec­tion at all and the two boys play­ing well, it was hard to take.

“I strug­gled last week with the se­lec­tion, but I re­alised that the boys were play­ing well.

“You have to re­spect that. You have to re­spect the coach’s de­ci­sion.”

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