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Dominic Ryan's time is right now


Dominic Ryan in action during a squad session this week: 'I'm just going to out there and give it everything I have.' Photo: Matt Browne / SPORTSFILE

Dominic Ryan in action during a squad session this week: 'I'm just going to out there and give it everything I have.' Photo: Matt Browne / SPORTSFILE


Dominic Ryan in action during a squad session this week: 'I'm just going to out there and give it everything I have.' Photo: Matt Browne / SPORTSFILE

Sometimes dreams really do come true.

Ireland new cap Dominic Ryan still remembers that evening so many moons ago.

He was eight or nine, not entirely sure which, up for devilment towards the end of the annual Landsdowne awards for the kids club.

"There used to be a small gap in the gate into the old Lansdowne Road," he recalled.

"We used to sneak in through the gap. None of the parents could get in. There were me and two other lads running around the pitch. It was getting dark and I heard people shouting.

"My Dad said: 'what the hell are you doing? You shouldn't be in there? Come on, we're going home.'"

I walked out and said: "Aw, Dad some day I'm going to play for Ireland in there".

From there to here, there has been a seam of talent to mine to begin with, a relentless work ethic and a dedication to fight through the scourge of two serious enough ankle injuries in 2012 and 2013.

"As a kid, it is a bit of a fantasy. As you get older, it becomes more of a reality. When you finally get named, reality sets in."

There have been coaches and mentors along the way.

It was at Gonzaga College where he first found someone to look up to, his current Leinster colleague Kevin McLaughlin.

"I was in first year when Kev' was in sixth year," said, the 24 year-old.

"He was number eight for the seniors and captain when I was number eight and captain for the first years. And he was my prefect.

"Everyone used to call me 'Mini Kev'. He's a great guy and he's been a bit of a role model for me growing up.

"Not many people do make it from Gonzaga. But, it's an attitude thing I think, more than anything else, when you're coming out of a school with a minority of international representation.

"He's paved the way and, hopefully, I'll follow."

Ryan really burst onto the Leinster scene in the season of 2010-2011 as a no-nonsense, hard-hitter in the mould of Sean O'Brien with 23 appearances, five of them in the Heineken Cup.

Then, the confidence-cracker of injury stagnated his momentum. He was stuck in neutral with an array of back row forwards hungry to eat up the minutes.

"I had two bad ankle injuries in two seasons. I was out of three-3 ½ months with each one. They knocked me back and I didn't get a consistent run of games. That would have been 2012 and 2013.

"It is a luxury for Leinster to have such a selection of good quality back rows.

"But, it's a pain in the ass for the players," he stated.

"It is about being patient. You can look at going to other clubs, different teams. But, you often want to stay at the best club in Europe. It's going to require patience if you're going to make it."

What goes around usually comes around.

This time last year, Ryan was looking at a lengthening queue of back rowers. There was Jamie Heaslip, Shane Jennings, Sean O'Brien, Rhys Ruddock, Jordi Murphy and McLaughlin.

And that was just at Leinster

Frustration. Anger. Negativity. These were elements that had to be fended off. He had the perseverance. He just needed the patience.

Sure enough, O'Brien, Jennings, Murphy, McLaughlin have all bitten the dust for a variety of injury reasons and time-frames this season.

This has led to eight starts, the space and time to find his rhythm and make an impact.

"I think if you look at the last time I had Ireland action, it was 2011 with the Wolfhounds. In terms of Emerging Ireland, I played the last two years.

"But, looking back to The Wolfhounds, things were progressing until a few injuries, a few setbacks.

"Rugby is not always in straight lines. It goes up and down.

"This is one of the rising points of my career."

Now that he is here, he has to make it count. Those broken bodies will mend. In the meantime, Ryan wants to make himself as indispensable as Dave Kearney, Chris Henry and Andrew Trimble did last year.

For the moment, he can only take it one game at a time. He knows coach Joe Schmidt will spot the good, the bad, the ugly.

"From now to kick-off, it is about mental preparation, visualisation, for me to get myself right," he confirmed.

The fact that he played out Leinster's two Champions Cup matches against Wasps and Castres Olympique can only benefit him.

"I am just going to go out there and give it everything I have," he said.

He will have to marry the technical detail to the steel edge that comes so naturally to him.

"If it is good enough to make an impression to be involved next week, you know, that's it.

"Joe always talks about doing stuff to make the person beside you look good. It is not necessarily all about you.

"If you ruck and clean deep to allow somebody to get around the corner and score a try, he's going to see that."