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Six Nations star Joe McCarthy makes decision on quitting Ireland team for NFL


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Ireland star Joe McCarthy has been drawing inspiration from American football, but he’s not planning to follow in the footsteps of former Wales wing Louis Rees-Zammit by pursuing an NFL career.

The Leinster lock, who was a standout performer in the first two rounds of the Guinness Six Nations and named man of the match on his championship debut against France, said: “I love the defensive side of the game, probably like it more than the attack sometimes.”

McCarthy, born in New York, watched Sunday’s Super Bowl with his international team-mates as the Kansas City Chiefs defeated the San Francisco 49ers.

He said: “They say defence wins championships, so it is good.” He also expressed his admiration for NFL defensive players, particularly Maxx Crosby from the Raiders and retired star JJ Watt. However, he confirmed: “I don’t think I’ll be changing over to the NFL any time soon. I’ll stick with the rugby.”

McCarthy kept his place in the second row for Ireland’s 36-0 win over Italy in Dublin on Sunday afternoon. This victory followed Ireland’s impressive performance in Marseille, as they defended their Grand Slam title.

After earning his first Test cap against Australia in autumn 2022, McCarthy had to miss last year’s Six Nations due to injury. However, he became the youngest member of Andy Farrell’s World Cup squad.

McCarthy confessed that playing at an international level has brought more attention. “There is way more attention in the Six Nations, you can feel it, much more than club games,” he said.

He added: “It is good, you are getting a lot of nice mentions. You’re trying to block it out and just go back to the process.”

“I felt I was ready to go at that stage (in the 2023 Six Nations) but an ankle injury kept me out for a few months. That happens.”

“It’s great to get an opportunity now and I am looking forward to it.”

Ireland will next play at home against Wales on February 24, before facing England and Scotland in March.

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