Sunday 25 August 2019

Byrne not getting sidetracked as Ireland's call begins to sound even louder

Adam Byrne. Photo: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile
Adam Byrne. Photo: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

This summer's Ireland tour to America and Japan will offer a glimpse into what the future holds, with Joe Schmidt likely to use it as an opportunity to blood new faces.

The uncapped Rory Scannell, Darren Sweetnam, Andrew Conway and Adam Byrne have been outstanding for their provinces this season and that hasn't gone unnoticed by the Ireland coach.

While Scannell, Sweetnam and Conway have crucially spent time in Ireland camp, Byrne is yet to force his way into the reckoning. He can't, however, be too far away.

The 22-year-old faces stiff competition from the likes of Sweetnam and Conway but given the calibre of player he's up against at Leinster, Byrne isn't daunted by the prospect of fighting for his place.

Having put a horrendous run of injuries, during which he broke both legs, behind him, Leinster's youngest debutant has been a revelation this season.

Nine tries in his 12 starts is an impressive strike rate for any winger but the Kill, Co Kildare native is taking it all in his stride, because, for all that he has already been through in his fledgling career, he knows how quickly things can change for the better or worse.

"I'd love to be part of the tour (to Japan), but I haven't heard anything from Joe myself," Byrne says.

"Obviously, it's the dream to play for your country, and that would be unbelievable, but I think at the moment I'm just focusing on here (Leinster) and just next week really. I'm just kind of taking it week by week, day-by-day. To be honest, I haven't looked too far ahead at all.

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"I wouldn't set goals quantitatively. It'd be more, I want to improve on certain things each week, and I want to put out a performance and stuff like that, and show different things each week.

"I don't like setting goals, as in 'I want to do this, I want to do that'. It's more just about kind of the performance, and literally just taking it (as it comes).

"Sometimes I write out goals for each training session, so it's very short-term for me. Hopefully if I can improve on a few things, and keep playing well, who knows what will happen."

Sevens rugby has firmly been put in the spotlight in the last week after three key Ireland women's players were sent to Las Vegas for a World Series event rather than play against France in a crucial Six Nations clash.

Byrne featured regularly for the men's sevens team before he made his breakthrough with Leinster and while insisting that he isn't doing anything differently in terms of his playing style, it was fascinating to hear him discuss just how beneficial he felt the sevens programme was for his development.

"I think a couple of summer ago, playing sevens was definitely good for me," Byrne explains.

"I wasn't playing in here, I'd had a few injuries and stuff like that. To play sevens, you're involved the whole time and you're on the ball.

"Maybe if a game isn't going too well for you, you have another four games. I really enjoyed that, and then I'd tried to bring the things I learnt in that into pre-season.

"Last year, I felt I was playing well. I played well for the 'A's, and I suppose it's just the strength in depth in here, it was hard to kind of break in.

"I was lucky I got a few chances this year, and I still feel I've a lot more to show and offer. I'm glad with how it's going. I just want to show the coaches what I can do."

On this season's evidence, Byrne has been doing it very well, as the international stage beckons.

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