'I remember thinking, this guy has a bit of dog about him' - Why Tadhg Beirne got 'really unlucky' at Leinster
It has been a spectacular rise for Irish second row Tadhg Beirne in the two years since he left Leinster - and Luke Fitzgerald thinks that the the 25-year-old could have made a similar breakthrough in Ireland if he had enjoyed better injury luck.
Beirne left Leinster for the Scarlets in the summer of 2016 after his contract wasn't renewed, and enjoyed a spectacular first season in Wales where he won the PRO 12 title.
The second row performed so well that Munster quickly agreed a two-year deal to bring him back to Ireland, with Beirne set to return home this summer.
Despite deciding to leave the Scarlets, Beirne has still excelled for the Welsh outfit this season, and has been included among the 15 nominees for European Player of the Year after some stellar work in the Champions Cup pool stage.
After playing so well for the Scarlets, plenty of Leinster fans have been left wondering why Beirne wasn't able to force his way into the team during his time at the province.
Speaking on The Left Wing this week, Independent.ie's rugby podcast in association with Laya Healthcare, Fitzgerald explained how Beirne's development was stunted by a nasty injury that the former Ireland star had himself.
"He has been unbelievable," Fitzgerald said of Beirne's recent displays.
"Myself and himself were on the same run with groin issues. He was 13 or 14 months and I was nearly a year with it. It was tough for Tadhg. He was in the academy at the time and was out a bit longer than me.
"Academy contracts are like €6,000 or €7,000 a year. When you are one of the stars on the team it is different, they will give you more time. You have a body of work behind you and they know what you can produce. When you are an unknown quantity, at some stage they have to say 'it has been 13 months, we have to go and get another young guy'. They would have had Ross Molony and James Ryan coming through so he was in a really difficult circumstance.
"It is why it is kind of surprising - he was forced to go, there was no contract for him so it's kind of disappointing that he wasn't brought into the Irish set-up. It should be a case-by-case basis."
Fitzgerald added that despite the injuries, he could see Beirne's potential when training with him at Leinster.
"I remember thinking, this guy is a serious athlete and he has a bit of dog about him," Fitzgerald said.
"I did, honestly [see his potential in training], he just got really unlucky. It was a really unfortunate scenario for everyone because I know Leo [Cullen] really liked him. They probably thought he was slightly undersized, but not that undersized for the athlete he was."
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