Determined Leavy ready to kick on after injury woe
The 2016/'17 campaign was something of a breakout season for Leinster flanker Dan Leavy, so he came into this term looking to kick on and build on the progress he'd made.
Long heralded as the coming man by those in the know, the talented back-row earned four Ireland caps and started a European semi-final for his province in an impressive campaign - fighting his way ahead of more experienced flankers in the process.
Having gone on Ireland's summer tour, Leavy came back with a good knowledge of what he had to do to take the next step and fight for a regular place when the big guns were available.
And then the old curse of injury struck the 23-year-old once again in September when the ankle problem he encountered against Cardiff Blues needed surgery, leaving him out for eight weeks.
Inclusion He returned to action against Glasgow Warriors last weekend and is set to start against Ulster on Saturday and he is determined to make up for lost time and force his way back into the international reckoning.
He is hoping that his past performances earn him inclusion in the squad Joe Schmidt names today, but knows the injury came at a bad time.
"The decision isn't up to me. All I can do is keep trucking," he shrugged. "I'll just try and put in some big performances. We have Ulster then Glasgow away and then into the November break.
"It's not really in my hands. There's never a good time to get injured but it was pretty frustrating so again all I have to do is put up my hand and try to get back in.
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"I kind of take it game by game and hope for a big performance up in Ulster. And then we have Glasgow after that and if I'm in the November squad happy days and then I'll try and put my hand up for a green jersey. I'm not really looking too much further than that."
Leavy enjoyed the summer tour experience and believes he has benefited from working closely with Schmidt and his backroom team in an intense window.
"I got about three weeks' training under his regime," he said.
"He drives the standard so high. It was intense but I feel I learned a lot and I know what he is looking for in terms of my own play and what he wants to see me doing.
"What Joe likes is someone that if he is given a job will complete his job and do what serves the team best. Joe makes it very clear before each game what he wants to see from you. If you deliver he will be happy with you and if you go off doing your own thing then he's not going to be too pleased."
Saturday's game represents a chance for Leinster to alter a poor recent record at the Kingspan Stadium where they've lost on their last five visits.
Last season's defeat had a lasting effect on their campaign as it set them on course for a semi-final against the Scarlets and Leavy is determined to end that run.
"They had a serious win against us last year, it caused us a bit of trouble in the end because we didn't actually win the league because of it," he said.
"They are obviously very proud at home. The crowd gets behind them so its important for us to go up and be disciplined and not let the crowd get going and get momentum on their side by giving away silly penalties."