Thursday 20 June 2019

Leo Cullen urges Ross Byrne to park his Six Nations disappointment and perform for Leinster against Wasps

Ross Byrne during Leinster Rugby squad training at Rosemount in UCD, Dublin. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Ross Byrne during Leinster Rugby squad training at Rosemount in UCD, Dublin. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

Ruaidhri O’Connor

Leinster coach Leo Cullen is urging out-half Ross Byrne to park his Six Nations disappointment and perform against Wasps on Sunday.

The 23-year-old missed out on selection for Joe Schmidt’s squad on Wednesday and has a chance to prove his worth in the pivotal Champions Cup clash at the Ricoh Arena.

Byrne continues in Johnny Sexton’s absence but the coach was upbeat on the Ireland No 10’s chances of recovering from his knee problem in time for the opening game of their title defence against England at the Aviva Stadium in two weeks’ time.

Robbie Henshaw, Devin Toner and Seán O’Brien are all back in Leinster’s match-day 23 for the clash, while Rob Kearney was not selected despite recovering from his quad issue.

Despite losing his place in the Ireland squad, Leinster have faith in Byrne’s capacity to bounce back.

“Ross is naturally disappointed, he's going well, Ross, I think and it's always difficult when you miss out,” he said.

“But for him, he just has to focus on his performance, regardless of what happened in terms of that selection.

“So what can he control? He can control the fact that he's playing this week, he's led the group well, it was great to get him through last week and I thought he was excellent as well.

“For him, he just has to focus on playing well and doing everything that's in his control. He can't control what all the other players are doing around the place, but he's been good for us, Ross, and he's well focused for the challenge that is ahead.”

O’Brien is once again returning from injury as he makes his first appearance since breaking his arm in Ireland’s November international against Argentina.

And Cullen says the Tullow Tank is chomping at the bit to come off the bench and make an impact.

“Seanie's going well, he's worked hard to get back and just the experience that he has, he gives us good coverage off the bench as well, he's played six, seven and eight, which makes a big difference,” Cullen said.

“He's trained well, he's so excited just about playing and is dying to get back. Hopefully it all goes well for him.It just makes him hungrier than ever now, I think, especially when you get on.

“He knows it's a big game, he looked on at a lot of the big games last year that he missed and I think it has given him a real taste for it, he wants to be back involved on the big days.

“He did well early season, he was involved in five or six games in a row and then was just incredibly unlucky to pick up a broken arm in a game.

“But he worked his way back from his other knocks, it was just a fresh injury. He's been able to run away during the period he was off with his broken arm so he's just hungry to get back involved and playing.

“Seanie's just one of those type of people who would rather play every week, the training can have a certain monotony to it but he's someone who loves playing, loves performing and hopefully gets a good run this weekend.”

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