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Wednesday 19 September 2018

Flanker Leavy can claw his way into Ireland's Six Nations plans

Leinster's Jack Conan, Jordi Murphy and James Lowe leave the pitch after yesterday’s win. Pic: Sportsfile
Leinster's Jack Conan, Jordi Murphy and James Lowe leave the pitch after yesterday’s win. Pic: Sportsfile

The Ireland back-row of CJ Stander, Seán O'Brien and Peter O'Mahony could come under serious threat from Dan Leavy (inset, right).

The 23 year-old left his fingerprints all over Leinster's clean out of the Munster back row last night.

Leinster's multi-talented loose-forward has that knack for pulling out big plays when the pressure is hottest.

Sure, he was disciplined in holding his width and his position for the opening try on the end of Ross Byrne's cross-field kick.

It was the second of his two turnovers that sealed his impressive performance.

Munster looked dead and buried when trailing by 22 points.

Then, two tries in three minutes from Ian Keatley and Andrew Conway, both converted by the out-half, put the game right back in the boiling pot.

Thereafter, the battle for supremacy swayed one way then the other until, eventually, Munster worked their way into their favourite pick-and-go position near the Leinster posts.

Just when they threatened to make it a one-score game, Leavy got in over the ball and refused to be moved.

Referee Nigel Owens' arms shot skywards to signal a reprieve.

It sucked all the energy and momentum right out of Munster's attack.

Whatever about his place in Joe Schmidt's plans for the Six Nations, Leavy was content to live in the moment last night.

Breaking

Breaking into Leinster's first choice back-row must be first on his 'to do' list. This is made more manageable by the injury to Rhys Ruddock.

Coach Leo Cullen was still able to have Josh van der Flier ready for impact off the bench.

"It's really competitive. It drives the standards," said Leavy. "Every time you get an opportunity to wear the jersey, you've got to take it.

"I've said it about a million times now and all the other lads have said it as well."

It will be interesting to see how Cullen now configures his back-row for New Year's Day against Connacht and January 6 against Ulster.

"We've got two more games in the next ten days or so. There will be a lot of rotation," declared Leavy.

The review of Leinster's performance will be more positive than negative tomorrow morning.

"I thought we were very clinical at the start. We took our chances very well. We know the calibre of this Munster team," said Leavy.

"You are going to have to do that, if you are going to come down here and win.

"You can't come down to Thomond Park and start slowly and have to claw it back."

Following on from niggling injury in November, Leavy means to claw his way back into Schmidt's plans.

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