Friday 20 April 2018

Cullen delight after Byrne puts in another stellar performance

Leinster head coach Leo Cullen. Photo: Sportsfile
Leinster head coach Leo Cullen. Photo: Sportsfile
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

After a week in which Joey Carbery dominated the headlines, Ross Byrne's man-of-the-match performance in the win over the Dragons served as a timely reminder of his quality.

Byrne is a very different out-half to Carbery and while he may not be as flashy, the former St Michael's student has steadily been making progress without grabbing the headlines.

The 22-year-old controlled the game expertly against the Welsh side and gave another master-class in goal-kicking.

Leo Cullen was impressed with Byrne's latest fine showing as he gets set to provide cover for Johnny Sexton when the Champions Cup returns next weekend.

"I am delighted for Ross because he has been involved in all of our games this year," Cullen said.

"I thought he controlled the game well. The competition is good because they are all pushing each other on and they are all different types of players. It is important that we have that depth."

Plenty has been made of Carbery's immediate future as he looks to get game-time in the pivot position but Cullen isn't concerned by that kind of talk.

Former Ireland coach Eddie O'Sullivan recently suggested that Carbery would be better off looking elsewhere for that game-time but Cullen didn't agree.

"There are always different angles and narratives as to what's going on in the game which is good as well," the Leinster head coach maintained.

"We discussed the comparison with a Beauden Barrett character, who played a lot at 15.

"He was 24-25 before he really took the reins as the 10 which gives him that different perspective.

"Even like a Dan Carter, who played a lot at 12 in the earlier part of his career outside (Andrew) Mehrtens quite often.

Exposure

"That exposure is good for 10s. There is a lot of pressure on a 10 in a rugby team, just the way the majority of the team is set up for the running of the game.

"There is a significant age gap between Johnny and the other three. It is really valuable that they are learning from Johnny all the time. He's one of the best in the world.

"The sky is the limit for someone like Joey because he's got a ton of ability, works on his game, wants to get better."

Jordan Larmour's electric performance at the RDS last Friday has the Leinster supporters purring even more with excitement and why shouldn't they?

Larmour has the ability to light up any contest but Cullen was quick to stress that people shouldn't get too ahead of themselves, given he is still only 20.

"You are trying to get the balance all the time with the exposure guys get," he added.

"You want them to have positive experiences. Jordan, he is a very electric runner.

"He started the season on the left wing away to Dragons. He has played at full-back and a lot on the right wing. Where he ends up, we'll wait and see.

"He is a very unique type of player in the broken field, unstructured part of the game, he is so dangerous.

"He is a great kid. I don't like calling them kids because they are young men.

"Why we want Leinster players to stay in Leinster is because you want to manage them over the course of their careers.

"That could potentially be a 15-year career.

"We try to take care of them, to give them experiences rather than just throw them into the deep end. So, when they are ready, they are really ready.

"If they are not showing the right characteristics, they are going to come unstuck later in their career for whatever reason, falling off the rails.

"He is an unbelievably exciting talent, Jordan. Every time he gets the ball, hopefully, he is going to be one of those players where everyone is on the edge of their seat all of a sudden.

"He has that ability and it is a great talent to have."

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