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Dublin: 9 °C Wednesday 21 February, 2018
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Scarlets delighted with impact of 'absolutely outstanding' Irishman Beirne

The former Leinster lock has been in superb form since his move to the Welsh region.

SCARLETS CAPTAIN KEN Owens has hailed the impact made by Irish second row Tadhg Beirne for the Welsh region since his move from Leinster last summer.

Ex-Ireland U20 lock Beirne endured a difficult time with injuries during his time in Leinster’s academy, although he did eventually make five senior appearances for the province in the Guinness Pro12.

Tadhg Beirne celebrates at the final whistle Beirne is having a brilliant season. Source: Craig Watson/INPHO

Eager for a fresh start, Beirne joined the Scarlets at start of the season and has gone on to be one of their best players in the current campaign, which has left the Welsh side in the Pro12 semi-finals.

The Kildare native has played 15 times for Wayne Pivac’s side in the Pro12 at both second row and blindside flanker, while he also started four games in their Champions Cup campaign – excelling in the two ties with Toulon.

Beirne will now return to the RDS with the Scarlets to face Leinster in the Pro12 semi-finals on 19 May, with his form making him one of the threats to Leo Cullen’s side.

“He has really grown as the season has gone on,” says Scarlets captain Owens. “Wayne has given him an opportunity after bringing him over from Leinster.

“He had a bit of a slow start coming into a new environment, but just before Christmas when he was given his first opportunity he has really kicked on and he is probably a candidate for one of our players of the season.

“He has been absolutely outstanding, both in Europe and in the league. His work-rate and what he brings is massive, as a second row and six.”

Off the pitch, Beirne has fitted in well with the Scarlets group too, as Pivac’s men have formed a close bond that is driving their best season and has them dreaming of a first title since 2004.

Steff Evans and Tadhg Beirne celebrate at the final whistle The former Leinster lock has also played at blindside flanker. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

“He has a strong Irish accent, but it’s not too bad,” says Owens. “He’s pretty quiet. I have a lot of Irish friends, my father has worked a lot over in Ireland over the years while some friends from Carmarthen have moved over to Ireland, so he wasn’t too hard to understand.

“I think he is spending a bit too much time with James Davies, though, judging by his haircut!”

Though Cullen will have to deal with Beirne’s impressive form at the RDS, the Leinster head coach has been similarly pleased to see the 24-year-old excelling.

“It’s great for Tadhg. I think he needed to go and play consistently somewhere and I think he’s got the opportunity there at Scarlets,” says Cullen.

“He’s a really good competitor, Tadhg, he was unlucky with injuries when he was coming through the academy and it stunted his development. He had a couple of big injuries and was out for long periods and just didn’t get into that flow of games, ever.

“But I’m really, really pleased. He’s a great competitor, he goes hard, he has a great engine. Even in his physical development, in his last six to nine months with Leinster he made huge physical strides so, yeah, I’m delighted to see him do well.”

Beirne helped the Scarlets to an impressive win over the Ospreys last weekend to seal third spot in the final Pro12 table, and they will bring a degree confidence to Dublin in two weekends, even if they got hammered 45-9 there as recently as March.

“It was a very tough night the last time we were at the RDS,” says Owens. “We were hammered, plain and simple, absolutely outplayed and we don’t want that to happen again.

“We want to make up for that evening and show we are a much better team than we showed last time.”

Hayden Triggs with Tadhg Beirne Beirne claims lineout ball against Leinster this season. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

And so, though the Scarlets are taking belief from their fine season so far, Owens is aware that they are the underdogs for this semi-final.

“It is the different variety of rugby they can play,” says the Wales hooker of Leinster’s strength. “They have a very strong pack and an outstanding backline.

“Johnny Sexton controls the game magnificently, you have players like Garry Ringrose, Joey Carberry stepping in, five Lions in that squad as well and experienced internationals right across the board.

“They can squeeze you by playing the corners or play a wide, expansive game. We need to turn up, put a performance in, perhaps stop Leinster’s momentum and hopefully nick a result.”

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