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Tadhg Beirne bringing 'good energy' as he gets set for Ireland debut

The 26-year-old will be covering the second row and blindside flank on Saturday against the Wallabies.

Murray Kinsella reports from Melbourne

TADHG BEIRNE RACKED up a fair few minutes for the Scarlets this season.

2,268 of them to be exact.

By way of comparison, Devin Toner and James Ryan, Ireland’s starting locks for Saturday’s clash with the Wallabies in Melbourne, have played 1,830 and 1,193 minutes, respectively, for province and country this season.

Tadhg Beirne during training Beirne is set for his Test debut off the bench on Saturday. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

With Beirne leaving the Scarlets for Munster this summer, the Welsh region wrung every last drop of effort out of him over the course of the season, with the fact that he also plays in the back row and wasn’t away on international duty ensuring he played virtually all their games.

Even after that jaw-dropping workload, Joe Schmidt still says that Beirne has been bringing “good energy” to Ireland camp on their tour of Australia, the 26-year-old’s first real involvement with the squad.

Beirne did briefly visit Ireland at their Carton House training base during the Six Nations but he is now part of the official squad and Schmidt is set to hand the Kildare man his Test debut off the bench in Saturday’s second Test against the Wallabies.

Beirne’s very different journey to this point has been impressive and this weekend should provide him with the chance to reach the proudest milestone yet.

“He obviously has good instincts on the pitch,” said Schmidt today after naming Beirne on the Ireland bench.

“We’ve seen that over course of this season and last season, particularly in the endgame of last season when he played superbly in the semi-final and final of the Pro14.

“We’re looking forward to seeing him out there. He brings a big engine to the job, he just keeps going.

“I do think that the pace of the game is something he’s used to, the way Scarlets play, and hopefully that allows him to settle right in pretty quickly.

Tadhg Beirne Beirne in Melbourne this week. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

“He’s had a week with us to… he’d had one training prior to coming on tour, so he had last week to settle himself and orientate himself and fit in.

“This week now he might get the opportunity and then step out and potentially make his Test debut.”

Beirne’s Ireland team-mates have been impressed with his impact on the group, although the vast majority of them already knew him well from having played against him – and his breakdown excellence – over the last two years.

“He’s hungry, you can tell,” said Toner. “He was disappointed not to be involved last week but I think he’s going to get a shot this week. If he gets off the bench he’s going to come looking for work.

“You can see that when he’s played for Scarlets, he’s just involved in everything. He’s got a really high work-rate and I’m excited to see how he goes.”

Learning the reams of detail and calls involved in the Ireland set-up has meant plenty of homework for Beirne during this tour, with the former Clongowes student very often spotted poring over video footage on a laptop.

“There’s a lot of detail and it’s worse for him because he has to learn six as well because he’s able to cover the back row,” said Toner.

Tadhg Beirne Beirne's skillset makes him an exciting addition to the Ireland squad. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

“He has to learn four and six, or five and six, whatever. It’s a lot of stuff to learn for your debut off the bench because you’re nervous enough as it is on the bench and coming on, you don’t know where it’s going to be.

“It’s nerve-wracking for him but I think he’s going to be grand. Whoever’s on the pitch will help out as soon as he comes on. You always have mini-conversations anyway within your mini-groups.”

None of those who have played against Beirne in recent times, or those who saw his promise in his injury-ravaged time with Leinster, are surprised the dynamic and skillful forward is now in position to make a big impact on Saturday.

“He’s been brilliant for Scarlets for the last two years,” said Toner. “He was just horribly unlucky with injuries in Leinster. The most I saw of him was when he was doing rehab in the gym, to be honest.

“Any time he did play, he was hungry for work. I’m not surprised at all.”

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Murray Kinsella

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