Saturday 19 August 2017

'Some fans will be crawling to their seats!' - Leinster legend Byrne thinks Friday night factor can help Ireland

Gareth Morgan in Cardiff

Shane Byrne believes the Friday night factor can work in Ireland's favour as they take on Wales at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff.

The former Leinster and Ireland hooker was on the early flight out of Dublin, headed for the Welsh capital along with a horde of Irish fans.

"It is going to be a long day for the players and the supporters too" acknowledged Byrne, as many of the more enthusiastic fans supped pints with breakfast in the departures lounge at Terminal Two.

"Some of them will be crawling to their seats in the stadium later on! But at least they might get back to their wives earlier on Saturday..."

Unlikely, as many of the travelling Green Army looked set to enjoy the best hospitality Welsh pubs could offer for the next 48 hours solid.

But for the players, Byrne reckons a Friday night is no different from regular provincial games.

"They will have switched the days in training this week to adjust and the guys will just click into the right frame of mind," he said.

He admits that he has been involved in some tasty encounters with the Welsh over the years,

"There is no love lost on the pitch. Off the pitch we get on great, but... Wales are fighting for a lot of things. For World Cup rankings, for Lions places.

"The first 20 minutes tonight will be an absolute toe to toe pit fight and I expect that to continue as long as they guys have got the legs and the gas."

Ultimately he believes it is "Ireland's game to lose".

"Ireland would have to start making mistakes to lose to Wales, andthey have been playing better rugby recently."

With no sign of rain as the supporters made their way from the airport towards the city centre, Byrne was sanguine about the fact that Wales got their way and the roof will be closed this evening.

As a hooker he has experienced the deafening roar of the crowd which can interfere with line-out calls in the heat of battle.

But he insists: "No player really cares. Having the noise is fantastic."

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