Saturday 21 September 2019

No 'twin envy' for Byrne as he takes inspiration from brother

Bryan Byrne. Photo: Sportsfile
Bryan Byrne. Photo: Sportsfile

Rúaidhrí O'Connor

Having watched his twin brother Ed get his European career up and running with Leinster, Bryan Byrne is determined to match him stride for stride.

The Carlow natives have been highly rated in the set-up since their days at Clongowes, but with the front-row stocks well and truly brimming with talent, they have had to bide their time to get an opportunity with the first team.

Ed's progress was stalled by a succession of serious knee injuries that makes his achievement in coming off the bench in both wins over Bath all the more impressive.

There is no jealousy from his twin brother, only a desire to emulate his achievements by getting back into the European squad himself.

"I'm delighted for him," he says of Ed. "The couple of weeks I thought he was going very well. It makes me not playing easier, watching him playing, so there wouldn't be twin envy! I'd be supporting him.

"It's great seeing him going so well. For me, I just like I feel that if I was in that position I could do the same job so it helps pushing me on as well.

"He had an awful time of it.

"Even the last couple of weeks, his first European game. We were like, 'If we think back two or three years ago…' We were like, 'Will he be able to play again?' But thankfully now he's in full fitness and playing very well.

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Perspective "Obviously it gives massive perspective for him. He can look back and say, 'Jeez, I've come through everything to be here today', so I think that's just an extra incentive for him saying, 'I've been through it all now so I'm going to go here and enjoy this and put my best foot forward to stay in the team'."

The 25-year-old hooker has two European starts to his name, but has struggled to break Seán Cronin and James Tracy's stranglehold on the No 2 and No 16 jerseys to date.

With no British and Irish Cup to fall back on this season, there has been limited opportunities to shine on the pitch but the feedback from the coaches has been positive.

And he hopes to turn his training-ground effort into appearances in the Christmas interpros; starting against Connacht tomorrow.

"Everyone wants to be starting," he says. "That's the main goal but to be involved with Leinster, to be playing in the games I know I can have an impact off the bench so I would prefer starting but for the weeks you are on the bench you give the best for the team and try bring that impact.

"Connacht are going very well. They've got five wins on the bounce now. They had a good tour of South Africa and beat Perpignan back to back."

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