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'We’re keen to see Harry in a big game, and this is a big game for us'

Leo Cullen has handed Harry Byrne another chance to impress with the 22-year-old set to start against Connacht on Friday.

Image: Ben Brady/INPHO

LEO CULLEN HAS handed Harry Byrne another opportunity to impress following the out-half’s difficult cameo off the bench against Ulster last weekend.

Byrne was introduced for older brother Ross with 16 minutes to play against Dan McFarland’s side on Saturday, but made a number of errors as Ulster turned the screw and recorded a rare win at the RDS.

Opportunities have so far been limited for Harry Byrne this season, with the 22-year-old playing just 38 minutes for Leinster, and 30 minutes off the bench for Ireland against Argentina last month.

And with the return of the Champions Cup just around the corner, Byrne will be eager to make the most of his latest opportunity as he starts just his second game of the season at the RDS tomorrow night, with Ross dropping back to the Leinster bench.

“It’s good, the Byrne brothers, nice and competitive. It’s a great opportunity for Harry and a number of guys coming back in from being off last week,” Cullen said. 

“They have different styles in terms of any of the 10s we have, especially from an attacking point of view, getting your timing off the 10s is very important for the forwards and the outside backs.

“Ross has played a tonne of games for the team, a very important player for us. Harry has played a hell of a lot less, younger player.  

We’re keen to see Harry in a big game, and this is a big game for us. I hope he goes well. I thought Ross did a good job last week so when he was good the competition is good, like we talked about in the past.  

“It’s making sure we are brave enough in terms of selection as well to give some of the younger players opportunities. There are a few other younger players in the team as well. Hopefully they go well.”

Cullen has made wholesale changes to his matchday squad for the game against Connacht, as the province welcome back a number of their Ireland internationals.

“The challenge for us is we have a lot of changes on the back of last week, a disappointing result. It’s important we try to be better but the challenge is quite similar against a team that is much more cohesive in many ways.  

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“Connacht are generally two or three changes week to week, we’ve 10-odd changes. That’s the challenge for us trying to get the group together.  

“We talk about his block of games, we missed an opportunity last week, it’s important that we don’t miss another one this week that leads us into Europe next week. It’s an unbelievably exciting block of games.  

“For our guys this is the exciting part of the year. There are lots of distractions as we know but for us we try to focus and play well.”   

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Ciarán Kennedy

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