| 23.4°C Dublin

'It's about seeing how he copes' - Leo Cullen says Ryan Baird is ready for RG Snyman match-up

Close

Ryan Baird during Leinster Rugby squad training at UCD in Dublin. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

Ryan Baird during Leinster Rugby squad training at UCD in Dublin. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

Ryan Baird during Leinster Rugby squad training at UCD in Dublin. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

Leo Cullen believes rising star Ryan Baird is ready to mix it with Munster's RG Snyman as the 21-year-old prospect gets the nod for the biggest game of his career to date.

The second-row was named as a development player by Ireland coach Andy Farrell during the SIx Nations and with James Ryan out he has kept Devin Toner on the bench for the season restart against Munster at the Aviva Stadium tomorrow.

The Reds have named World Cup winners Snyman and Damian de Allende to start, but Cullen is looking forward to seeing how Baird goes.

"It's about trying to put him into the game and seeing how he copes with the demands," he said.

"I thought he was making really steady progress before we broke up and he's got himself in really good shape, stayed in very good shape over the course of the break.

"People have seen different glimpses of his athletic ability so it's just about how he pulls it all together.

Close

Leinster head coach Leo Cullen. Photo: Sportsfile

Leinster head coach Leo Cullen. Photo: Sportsfile

Leinster head coach Leo Cullen. Photo: Sportsfile

"With him and Fards (Scott Fardy), the average age is a bit more normal between the two of them so it's a good mix of experience and youth. We'll see how it goes and we have Dev on the bench, which gives us a lot of security as well for later in the game.

"Ryan has trained well over the course of this lockdown period and he deserves his opportunity."

Cullen is an admirer of the two Springboks who will add to the physical weaponry available to Johann van Graan.

Rugby Newsletter

Subscribe to 'The Collision' for a weekly update from Rugby Correspondent Ruaidhri O'Connor and the best writing from our expert team Issued every Friday morning

This field is required

"It's been a challenge because we haven't seen them play with Munster so we're not sure what that's going to look like," he said.

"We know they're two very good players, we all saw them at the World Cup. Damian de Allande has a good skillset, is strong in terms of his running but he's also got subtleties to his game, good footwork.

"I remember first seeing him when I was at a Crusaders game against the Stormers in 2014 and I remember him. He was a very good footballer and scored a try that day.

"I saw RG Snyman play for the South Africa U20s years ago and he's been on the radar ever since. He's a hugely big man, came through in South Africa and is still very young, for a lock that is, but not as young as one of our locks who is stepping into the team. Young in comparison to say Scott Fardy.

Close

RG Snyman will make his Munster debut against Leinster on Saturday alongside Springbok team-mate Damian De Allende. Photo: Inpho

RG Snyman will make his Munster debut against Leinster on Saturday alongside Springbok team-mate Damian De Allende. Photo: Inpho

RG Snyman will make his Munster debut against Leinster on Saturday alongside Springbok team-mate Damian De Allende. Photo: Inpho

"It should be a good battle. We know it's a huge game for Munster because of where they sit in their conference and trying to get ahead of Edinburgh. I'm sure they're building strongly and it will be a great test for our guys."

Tadhg Furlong misses out with a back problem, but should be fit to face Ulster next week.

Cullen has gone for a combination of six forwards and two backs on his bench and he's expecting a battle.

"We went 6/2 split on the bench and that's one of the reasons - we think it will be a bit more of a physical battle for the forwards. Normally in a pre-season scenario, you might get to change most of your team at half-time so we don't get that luxury during this game," he said.

"There was a little bit of that thinking allied to the fact that you think about South Africa winning the World Cup with a 6/2 split and England went to that during the Six Nations, which was interesting as well. It was just something we wanted to look at, there's somewhat experimentation in that, but also certain factors why we would look to experiment."


Most Watched





Privacy