herald

Wednesday 16 October 2019

Dragons set to feel the Byrne

Leinster’s Adam Byrne
Leinster’s Adam Byrne

It hasn't' quite worked out as Adam Byrne would have wanted.

Not yet.

Byrne's physical dimensions of 6' 4" and over 100kilos makes Byrne a different type of threat for Leinster.

The then little-known wing out of Naas rugby club emerged from the Leinster clubs system to make his professional debut at 18-years of age against Connacht in November 2012.

The wide-eyed teenager was not ready.

"The first one was pretty funny, I was just training away in the sub-academy," he said.

"I had played a few 'A' games and didn't really know what to expect.

"I had started rugby quite late, came up through the youths and wasn't aware of this whole schools rugby side of it.

"I couldn't get over how big it was for the lads, so I was just chipping away in the gym and playing with the 'A' team.

"I got a few chances and then I think with injuries and internationals being rested, I got called out to train a few times with the senior side.

"I thought 'wow, this is cool,' enjoying every moment of it, walking out to train with the likes of Brian O'Driscoll and Gordon D'Arcy.

"I couldn't believe it, I was ringing my Mam saying 'this is deadly'."

Strangely, he didn't wear his second cap until over three years later when reappearing against The Dragons in January 2016. A lot has happened since then.

There was a Champions Cup debut against Northampton Saints at Franklin Gardens in December later that year.

Impressive

This was his breakthrough season, starting on the right wing for 19 starts and one appearance from the bench for an impressive strike rate of one try in every two matches.

This continued into the 2017/2018 season where there were seven more starts, including five for 80 minutes, all the way to the November international window.

The consistency of what Byrne had to offer convinced Joe Schmidt he was worth consideration out in Carton House.

The benefit of the Schmidt experience at Leinster meant it didn't come as the jolt it has been for others.

"I kind of knew maybe a little bit about what to expect," recalled Byrne. "He sets the standards really high and expects the best from you. I kind of like it that way.

"It's similar in here (Leinster), so he obviously would have set that culture when he was here."

It looked like Byrne had not done enough to represent his country when the Fiji match passed him by last November.

One week on, everything changed when Schmidt called out his name second, just after full-back Rob Kearney.

"With Ireland, I was just trying to take in as much as I could when I was in camp last year and learn as much as I could," he said.

"I owe a lot to him giving me my Leinster debut and my first Ireland cap as well."

Since then, Byrne has not been able to force the argument for a second cap.

The emergence of Jordan Larmour and the signing of James Lowe did not work in his favour.

He spent much of the start of this season with Leinster A in the Celtic Cup.

It was sandwiched by four PRO14 matches two before and two after to find rhythm.

There was even an invitation to Carton House for the New Zealand week.

The minor procedure to Larmour's knee and Fergus McFadden's unfortunate hamstring tear has left a vacant position on the right wing.

The one-game-at-a-time mental process means The Dragons at Rodney Parade could stand between Byrne and a return to The Champions Cup in Bath on Saturday week.

Bernard Jackman has pushed an attractive style of play with limited success.

"They try to play wide and they offload the ball as well and I enjoy that type of game," issued Byrne.

"They are very tough at home and tough to break down. They beat Edinburgh at home (last weekend).

"We're under no illusions that it is going to be tough when we go there."

PRO 14 LEAGUE

Dragons v Leinster

Live TG4/ES1 (Tom, KO 5.15)

Promoted articles

Entertainment News