Saturday 21 April 2018

Byrne eager to push on after guiding Blues during Six Nations

Ross Byrne during squad training. SPORTSFILE
Ross Byrne during squad training. SPORTSFILE
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

Ross Byrne is enjoying his rugby, and he is also getting used to fulfilling his media duties with an assuredness that some of his senior team-mates could learn from.

Speaking with the press twice in the space of a few days helps in that regard of course, but it also generally means that Byrne is in the starting team for the coming weekend.

The 21-year-old was rewarded for his excellent form this season with a senior contract and that came as little surprise after he has steered the Leinster ship marvellously well in recent months.

Leo Cullen is spoilt for choice in the out-half position which is amazing when you consider that Leinster let Ian Madigan go last year.

Byrne and Joey Carbery continue to battle it out to be Sexton's understudy, while the fit-again Cathal Marsh will be eager to have his say in the battle as well.

Leinster's attacking game has improved drastically this season, particularly during the crucial Six Nations window when they claimed 20 points from a possible 20.

"I think the League as a whole has improved a lot this year," Byrne maintained.

"I think it's a lot more competitive all round. You just have to look at how tight it is at the top of the table.

"For us, it's probably just the way we are training at the moment. We're constantly trying to improve and throw that pass. Obviously when it comes off, it's great and we score tries but there are times when it doesn't come off as well.

"It probably took us quite a while at the start of the season.

"We weren't really scoring that many but then when you get a bit of momentum, things start coming off and then everyone starts believing in the way that you are playing.

"We keep scoring (tries) so hopefully we can continue to do that."

Tomorrow's game against Cardiff will provide plenty of players with a final chance to impress Cullen before the majority of the front-liners return for next weekend's mouthwatering Champions Cup quarter-final clash against Wasps.

"We always knew the break was coming up so before these four games started, we just had targeted them and getting as many points out of them as possible."

In many ways, the two-week break from Pro12 action came at a bad time for Leinster who had really found their groove but Byrne believes that they can push on again now as the business end of the season rapidly approaches.

With regard to the fierce competition for places, Byrne insists that the fact that each out-half offers something different, will count in Leinster's favour in their bid for silverware in both the Pro12 and the Champions Cup.


"We're all a bit different but I think the team probably plays similarly," he added.

"We have different traits so maybe it would be more, say our little individual plays.

"Joey would be more about breaking so he would probably be running the pitch more than myself whereas I might be kicking the ball a little bit more.

"Maybe that does put a bit of doubt in the minds of teams and for their back threes because maybe they second-guess themselves. I don't know if it really has a big effect though.

"I don't think teams are going to change their defensive system for whichever 10 is playing against them."

Irish Independent

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