herald

Wednesday 29 March 2017

Leinster should lean on Leavy

Openside flanker eager to play his part for Ireland in the Six Nations

Leinster’s Josh Van Der Flier, Dan Leavy (centre) and Isa Nacewa at the announcement in the RDS of #FuelThe4th fan experience. ife Style Sports is asking Leinster fans to post messages of support to their favourite player using #FuelThe4th. The winner with the most inspirational social post will watch Leinster take on Wasps in their own premium level box. Pic: Inpho
Leinster’s Josh Van Der Flier, Dan Leavy (centre) and Isa Nacewa at the announcement in the RDS of #FuelThe4th fan experience. ife Style Sports is asking Leinster fans to post messages of support to their favourite player using #FuelThe4th. The winner with the most inspirational social post will watch Leinster take on Wasps in their own premium level box. Pic: Inpho

Dan Leavy was marooned in the strange limbo land that is the 24th man for Ireland's battle with France.

He was there all along and, yet, not quite there when it came time to shake the hand of President Higgins.

"I felt like a bit of a spare part," he said.

"Even in the warm-up against France, I was ready. I felt really comfortable, just dying to play.

"Then, when we got into the changing-room, it was, 'you can go and have a shower now.'

"It was frustrating," admitted the Leinster flanker, capped against Canada in November.

"There are positive and negatives. But to be another step closer and to be viewed as a realistic option is positive."

Ireland coach Joe Schmidt's policy of steadily introducing younger players into the demands of the international environment has worked out well for Robbie Henshaw, Garry Ringrose and Josh van der Flier, just to name three.

"I trained with the team every day," he said.

"I know what the intensity is like and I can slot in pretty seamlessly.

"Obviously, it is one thing saying it and another thing doing it.

"I will have to wait for my opportunity to showcase my talent, play the way I know I can."

There is no room for a dip in form or commitment when Leavy will pull on the Blue shirt against the Scarlets on Saturday.

Self-preservation only comes into it in between games.

go hard

"When I'm on the pitch, I go hard," he said.

"It is not even a temptation (to ease up). You have to look after your recovery, you know, massage, ice baths, stretching, foam-rolling, everything.

"You have to do that because, if you slip up one week, get a small injury, keeps you out for four weeks, your opportunity is lost."

Leavy understands the same situation that applies at Ireland could well stand for The Champions Cup quarter-final.

His curriculum vitae does not quite allow the move ahead of, say, Sean O'Brien.

"There is going to be a degree of loyalty from coaches to players," he considered. "Seanie is a world-class player. Everybody knows it. He has been performing in that jersey for years.

"If Leo (Cullen) has a seasoned vet on one hand and an up-and-coming player, he knows the vet will perform.

"In his head, why is he going to throw a young player out there in front of a vet?

"That is the kind of thing. You have to push above the level to kind of take the decision away from him.

"That's what we all strive to do."

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