Sunday 18 August 2019

'Ross can't feel sorry for himself'

Cullen advises Leinster out-half Byrne to show Schmidt why he made a mistake

Leinster head coach Leo Cullen, left, and Ross Byrne are pictured during training at Rosemount in UCD ahead of tomorrow’s Heineken Champions Cup clash with Wasps. Photo: Sportsfile
Leinster head coach Leo Cullen, left, and Ross Byrne are pictured during training at Rosemount in UCD ahead of tomorrow’s Heineken Champions Cup clash with Wasps. Photo: Sportsfile
Jack McGrath
Ross Byrne of Leinster is tackled by Thomas Ramos of Toulouse during the Heineken Champions Cup Pool 1 clash at the RDS Arena in Dublin

Jack Carty's Ireland opportunity has come at Ross Byrne's exclusion.

The Leinster out-half must have been taken aback to hear from Joe Schmidt about the drop from third to fourth choice on the Ireland depth chart.

This is when being surrounded by the right people can become crucial.

"You need to be careful who you listen to," warned Leo Cullen.

"Some people will give you sympathy. There's only so far that will get you.

"You need to be careful who you are taking words from," he continued

"Ultimately, you have to go out and perform and play better.

"There's no point feeling sorry for yourself. It's not going to get you very far."

The Leinster coach knows all about being disappointed, dropped and just plain ignored by Ireland coaches.

He played through a time when Donncha O'Callaghan and Paul O'Callaghan were stitched into the second row shirts.

There is no room for showing the selfishness that can come along with a personal setback.

It is not about how far Byrne has fallen; but about how he gets back to where he was in November.

For that to happen, the 23-year-old has only to play his part, execute the game plan, lead Leinster to victory over Wasps at the Ricoh Arena tomorrow afternoon.

This is where the meaning of team can be wrapped around Byrne, giving him the feeling of brotherhood that comes in a time of need.

He is not just playing for himself, but for where he comes from.

"Moping around feeling sorry for yourself isn't going to get you very far.

"You need to park that disappointment," stated Cullen.

"We see with our guys all the time. Some guys respond incredibly well to missing out.

"When their next one comes along, they are better placed because they have gone and worked on the things they potentially need to work on.

"They are hungrier for when their next opportunity comes along and set themselves and go out and perform better.

"That's what they can control."

The return of Jack McGrath to start at loose-head is just example of someone taking the disappointment from last week and turning it into something positive.

Robbie Henshaw and Devin Toner have been able to shake-off injuries and Jamison Gibson-Park replaces the injured Luke McGrath to complete the four changes from last week.

The ongoing absence of Jonathan Sexton with a knee tendon problem will enable Byrne to take his frustration out on Wasps.

"Yeah, you can react, respond in many different ways," said Cullen.

"At least, Ross has a big game in front of him this weekend so he has got something that is very much in his control.

In an overall context, Leinster have to secure four points to guarantee that home quarter-final

They have the advantage of playing in the last group of games, knowing exactly what they will have to do.

"We are where we are, so we will have a pretty good idea as to where we are and what's required.

"I don't know does it make the picture easier, but, at least, it makes it clearer," said Cullen.

"We will wait and see. We will watch the games, try and not get distracted by all the bits going on.

"We need to just stay focused on what we need to do and what we are preparing for."

Effectively, Leinster have to consider the ramifications should either Saracens or Racing 92 slip up on the final runway of the Pool phase.

This is unlikely given the English club hosts Glasgow at Allianz Stadium tomorrow (KO 1.0) and, straight after, the Paris club hosts Scarlets (KO 3.15). This year, the Top-2 qualifiers will have home advantage in both the quarter-finals and semi-finals.

All Leinster can do is protect their position at the head of Pool One with a win, probably for a home quarter-final.

Wasps: R Miller; J Bassett, M Campagnaro, G Lovobalavu, E Daly; L Sopoaga, D Robson; Z Zhvania, T Cruse, J Cooper-Woolley, J Launchbury (capt), W Rowlands, B Shields, N Carr, N Hughes. Replacements: A Johnson, B Harris, W Stuart, C Matthews, B Morris; C Hampson, B Searle, M Watson.

Leinster: J Larmour; A Byrne, G Ringrose, R Henshaw, D Kearney; R Byrne, J Gibson-Park; J McGrath, S Cronin, T Furlong, D Toner, J Ryan, R Ruddock (capt), J van der Flier, J Conan. Replacements: J Tracy, C Healy, A Porter, S Fardy, S O'Brien; H O'Sullivan, N Reid, R O'Loughlin.

Verdict: Leinster

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