herald

Sunday 17 December 2017

Schmidt's man management makes Blue boy Byrne better

Ireland's Adam Byrne
Ireland's Adam Byrne

George Benson sang 'Never give up on a good thing.' Joe Schmidt handed Adam Byrne his first Leinster shirt at the age of 18.

The word prodigy was quietly trotted about the organisation on the basis of the six minutes against Connacht back in December of 2012 that made him the youngest debut-maker in the professional era. The sky was the limit for a real physical specimen.

He was in line to become a poster boy for backs coming out of the club system to rival forward Sean O'Brien and, latterly, Tadhg Furlong.

All Byrne had to do was keep his head on straight and reach for it.

Just 23, it has taken Byrne longer than it looked back then and longer than he would have wanted to scale the height to a first Ireland cap.

Even so, it was worth the wait.

"You know, it was extremely emotional," he said.

"I tried to tell myself I wouldn't (cry). I tried to not let the emotions get to me.

"But it's been something I've looked at since I was a little kid and it is hard to keep them under control when the anthem's playing.

"Yeah, it was a special moment."

Increasingly, this game is becoming a sport for athletes rather than players.

Explosive

The measurables are important in a match of bulging muscle and explosive bursts of speed and power.

The climb from Naas rugby club to international status has been punctuated by leaps into the air and along the ground and slips, predominantly in defence. For the record, Byrne completed eight tackles against Argentina and missed none.

He was the culprit of two turnovers in what can be a costly count given the quick-striking nature of The Pumas.

There were times when the opening was there to hammer in a psychological and physical blow and he eased down a gear into contact.

The three carries produced one clean break and two beaten defenders in what was an overall impact that looked to be based on keeping mistakes to a minimum, not metres to a maximum.

When the extended Ireland squad of 38 was announced for the Guinness Series, Byrne was hidden from view.

So much so that, when the team was leaked on Thursday, his inclusion was the talk of Carton House.

From the outside, it looks like coach Schmidt put three weeks of work into Byrne to climb inside the head of a talented man.

"He's been great. It's been a massive learning curve coming into a new environment," said Byrne about his national coach.

"I've tried to take as much board as I can. He's been extremely helpful.

"But the thing I like most is that he is treating me like anyone else.

"He is expecting me to know my detail. I try to take as much on board and try not to mess up."

Once again, the intelligence of Schmidt and the way he has handled a sensitive soul is a lesson in man management.

Promoted articles

Entertainment News