Wednesday 24 April 2019

Deegan eager to stake his claim for Champions Cup clash

Max Deegan: I want to give a good enough performance to be in there with the guys playing for Ireland. Photo: Sportsfile
Max Deegan: I want to give a good enough performance to be in there with the guys playing for Ireland. Photo: Sportsfile
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

A quick scan through the previous winners of the World Rugby Junior Player of the Year award will tell you that Max Deegan is certainly in some illustrious company.

Past recipients of the prestigious gong include the likes of Aaron Cruden, Julian Savea, Jan Serfontein, Handre Pollard and, most recently, Jordan Joseph, who is a superstar in the making.

It's three years since Deegan's outstanding performances inspired the Ireland U-20s to the World Cup final, but his career in the time since hasn't fully ignited in the manner that many expected.

Having played 18 times (10 starts) last season for Leinster, Deegan is well on his way to surpassing that total this term as he as already played 17 games, including nine starts.

As soon as he came into the Leinster set-up, the former St Michael's student was already being talked about as an exciting prospect and when he was crowned Player of the Year, that expectation was heightened - even if Deegan didn't feel as if it did.

"Leo (Cullen) dealt with us younger lads as he would with any younger lads, build you through training first, so I didn't feel anything, no," he insists.

Having mainly been playing No 8, Deegan has found himself across the back-row this season.

He had been no stranger to playing blindside but in his last three starts have come at openside, which on one hand highlights his versatility but, on the other, is allowing someone like Caelan Doris (another exceptional talent) enhance his reputation at No 8.

"I'd a slower start than I would've liked, but I'm coming into a good run of games," Deegan admits.

"If I can cover a bit of seven I'd be happy to do that. There's a bit of that. More and more it's going to be 8, 6. I like playing six and I think I have a good grasp of it, lineout and stuff. I'm not fully used to playing six but it's something I would like to get used to playing."

Deegan will get a chance to stake his claim for next week's quarter-final against Ulster when Leinster travel to Edinburgh tomorrow.

"I want to be able to step in and give a performance good enough of making an impact in a Champions Cup game," he adds. "So if I'm playing on the bench, whatever it is, I just want to know I can give a good enough performance to be in there with the guys playing with Ireland."

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