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Dublin: 6 °C Saturday 15 December, 2018
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Leavy eyes up opportunity to make a claim for Ireland's seven jersey

The 23-year-old was superb for Joe Schmidt’s side off the bench in Paris.

Murray Kinsella reports from Paris

IN DAN LEAVY’S mind, it has always been a case of getting the right opportunity.

The Leinster openside is not a player who lacks confidence in his own ability and his impactful performance against France on Saturday was possibly only a hint of what he can offer Ireland.

Dan Leavy and Fergus McFadden celebrate after the game Leavy celebrates with Fergus McFadden. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Leavy was a sensation in his school days but injury issues in his early professional seasons slowed his development into the player he is now becoming.

Currently a key part of the squad at Leinster, particularly with Sean O’Brien having had intermittent injury problems of his own, Leavy has shone with his physicality, breakdown ability and handling skills.

He made his Ireland debut against Canada during the November series in 2016, was capped off the bench against England in last year’s Six Nations, before the summer tour of the US and Japan allowed him to stress to Schmidt exactly what he could do.

Coming into last weekend’s clash, many felt Schmidt should go for Leavy in the seven shirt but Josh van der Flier was picked instead.

As it transpired, a knee injury to van der Flier meant Leavy was sprung in the first half for his fifth cap and he was one of the best Irish players on the pitch as they won in dramatic circumstances.

“I thought I slotted in pretty seamlessly, knew my role and everything very well,” said Leavy afterwards at Stade de France.

“I was just dying for an opportunity and I got one today, and we came away with a win. When you’re on the bench you have to be clued in, you might be on after five minutes.

Dan Leavy Leavy has confidence in his ability. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

“I’ve been on the bench for Leinster a few times before and I’ve been on after seven minutes, so it’s nothing new to me – it’s something I’ve done before.

“It’s the same old game of rugby at the end of the day, there’s no point in putting it up in lights because that is when it will get in your head, so I just came on and tried to do my thing. I was pretty happy.”

Speaking after Ireland’s 15-13 victory, Schmidt indicated that van der Flier will miss this weekend’s meeting with Italy in Dublin, leaving Leavy with a shot at the starting seven jersey.

“Hopefully Josh isn’t too bad, I’ve been in his position before, getting injured in games like that, and it is horrible,” said Leavy.

“So, my best wishes go to him but personally it’s a bit of an opportunity for me to kick on and make a claim for the jersey myself.”

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Murray Kinsella

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