'Everyone has Leinster on that pedestal' - Tadhg Beirne confident Munster can take final step

Eyes on the prize: Tadhg Beirne is tackled by Ellis Genge of England during Ireland's Six Nations win in Dublin. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

tadhg beirne

tadhg beirne

thumbnail: Eyes on the prize: Tadhg Beirne is tackled by Ellis Genge of England during Ireland's Six Nations win in Dublin. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
thumbnail: tadhg beirne
thumbnail: tadhg beirne
Rúaidhrí O'Connor

Tadhg Beirne only managed 14 competitive minutes on the RDS pitch during his time as a Leinster player. There would be something fitting if he were to claim a second Guinness PRO14 medal on the Ballsbridge sod tomorrow evening.

As Munster fans search for reasons to believe their 10-year wait for a trophy can end this weekend, the form of their talismanic second-row will be right up there.

The Kildare native was probably the player of the Six Nations for Ireland. Indeed, he is in the conversation for the player of the Championship overall.

He comes into tomorrow’s match almost certain of his place on the Lions tour and the starting blindside flanker in most teams being picked.

Beirne has been one of the top players in this part of the world ever since his move to the Scarlets worked out so well in the 2016/’17 season, but even he understands that it takes a sustained bout of starring in the international arena to get the rewards.

“I feel that kind of form has been there for me,” he says.

“I don’t think when I put on a Munster jersey I have ever felt I played poorly or I have put in a performance where I have felt I wasn’t where I wanted to be but it has been an opportunity to get a run of games.

“Obviously, when you are playing for Ireland it is going to be noticed a lot more.

“A lot more people watching those games and to get a run of five games on the bounce was a massive opportunity for me and I only went out and tried to do what I had been doing for Munster as well.

“The more you play the more you get used to that kind of standard of rugby and that pace of the game and it can be difficult coming in and out of a team, so getting those run of games was certainly a help. I’m not saying it’s easy playing international rugby by any means.

“Every time you go out there and put on a green jersey it’s an incredibly difficult task and a big ask to put in a big performance but it is certainly something you improve on as you play as well.”

Beirne was on the other side when Munster last reached a final, starring as Scarlets ripped Rassie Eramsus’s side to shreds at the Aviva Stadium in 2017.

“The Irish media had written off Scarlets pretty early, so I think we probably went in with an extra, I don’t know, probably a lot of people were not expecting us to win that game back here,” he recalls of that 46-22 win.

“Back in Wales I think a lot of people were expecting us to win it, so it was a different vibe.”

Beirne certainly has a sense of déjà vu this week.

“I am not too sure where all your heads are at, but a lot of you (journalists) could already be writing us off because everyone has Leinster on that pedestal,” he says. “We are quietly confident in here. We were backing ourselves and we feel like we will be able to get the win on Saturday.”

Beirne and CJ Stander are coming on the back of heavy Six Nations involvement, but he believes the prize will focus Munster minds.

“Both sides are going to be in the same boat,” he says.

“That is probably the most challenging thing is to get onto the same page, to where Munster have been working towards. We have been out of that environment for eight weeks now, so that is the biggest difficulty.

“In terms of flicking a switch on the day of a final, it is a final at the end of the day, we have not won silverware here for 10 years. There is not going to be a problem flicking a switch, everyone in here is incredibly competitive and everyone wants to win, so that is definitely not going to be a problem.”

“Look, there are a few lads in here who were involved (in 2011), Keith (Earls) and Murrs (Conor Murray) maybe, so it has been a long time coming for them.

“Then some lads have been played in a lot of semi-finals and finals and haven’t won anything and then there is a lot of young lads who broke through in the last year or two who haven’t been involved in any of that.

“It is a fresh game for them, so look, there are all different kinds of motivations there for different people, but everyone knows you don’t get too many opportunities to play in a final.

“Everyone is going in with the same goal and everyone is going to be going all guns blazing for the big one on Saturday.”

If Beirne brings his Six Nations form to his old stomping ground, he’ll take some stopping.

Ireland’s leading man: Tadhg Beirne’s Six Nations in numbers

Starts: 5

Minutes played: 376

Tries: 2

Carries: 51

Metres per carry: 4.2m

Linebreaks: 2

Tackle breaks: 4

Passes: 30

Offloads: 3

Successful tackles: 38

Missed tackles: 2

Attacking ruck arrivals: 112

Defensive ruck arrivals: 41

Breakdown steals: 8

Lineout takes: 15

Lineout steals: 2

Turnovers conceded: 3

Penalties conceded: 7