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Leinster out-half Harry Byrne.
Leinster out-half Harry Byrne.
Image: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

'He's very talented but you need to fit that talent into teamwork'

Felipe Contepomi has backed Harry Byrne to learn from a difficult cameo off the bench during Leinster’s defeat to Ulster.
Nov 30th 2021, 7:15 AM 15,052 12

THE MESSAGE FROM Leo Cullen couldn’t have been clearer following Leinster’s defeat to Ulster.

After falling to a rare home loss last Saturday, the Leinster head coach issued a word of warning to some of those players who had struggled to rise to the occasion at the RDS – “When a group doesn’t deliver, then in many ways, sometimes that’s their chance gone.”

There will be a few players in his matchday squad who felt they fell into that bracket.

Some of those might not be seen in Leinster blue for some time, given the high stakes games that lie ahead. Next up it’s Connacht at home on Friday, followed by back-to-back Champions Cup games before the St Stephen’s Day trip to Munster.

This season, the Leinster coaching team has been quick to point out that chances to impress will be at a premium, with the structure of the URC not really allowing the same level of squad rotation which has served the province so well over the years.

Those words of warning came to mind watching Harry Byrne against Ulster. In his 16 minutes on the pitch, the talented young out-half struggled to fully settle into the rhythm of the game and was at times guilty of over-complicating things as he made a couple of costly errors in possession.

According to Leinster backs coach Felipe Contepomi, it’s all part of the learning process for a player who finds himself at an important stage of his career as he looks to take the next step in his development. So far this season, the 22-year-old has played just 38 minutes for Leinster and 30 minutes for Ireland.

“Definitely the first thing is that it’s good to see him training and injury-free for at least a month or more than five weeks,” Contepomi said, referencing Byrne’s injury struggles over the past year.

So that’s the first positive thing to see, and then maybe in the games you could see he’s forcing (things)… he’s very talented but you need to fit that talent into teamwork and into a team-like flow, especially if you’re a 10. You need to make it flow rather than flow yourself.

“It’s something he’s learning and he will learn, but the talent is there and the potential is there, and it’s great to have him and hopefully he will have more minutes and keep developing.

“He’s young, and sometimes we expect (a lot), and sometimes it doesn’t work that easily for a young out-half. You need experiences. It’s not about age, but it’s about passing through similar situations over and over, and sometimes making errors and learning from them, that’s what gives you experience.

“So he’s in that part of his career, but you are always judged to the top level so that’s the challenge he’s facing, but I think he’ll get it right. And we’ll try to help him and prepare him to succeed as much as we can.”

Leinster have welcomed back the bulk of their Ireland internationals to training this week as they look to quickly get back to winning ways, the province hosting an in-form Connacht at the RDS on Friday night. On their last visit to the Dublin 4 venue, Andy Friend’s side pulled off a brilliant, shock 35-24 win.

“When we lose, we know we need to go deep into the review and so on because there’s no point in losing and not getting a learning out of it,” Contepomi continued. “It was what it had to be and now we have changed the page. 

They will be more than confident of coming and getting a result at the RDS. We know how good they have been, not only the game against Ulster, but the game last weekend against Ospreys. They are on a good run. You can see them playing a very good brand of rugby, they are well coached, good players, highly motivated.

“We are highly motivated and it was great to have interpros back with fans and I think we owe our own fans a bit because we weren’t good enough last Saturday.”


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Meanwhile, Contepomi also confirmed that James Ryan has not suffered any complications in his return from a head injury, with the lock set to see an independent concussion consultant.

Ryan suffered a head injury during Ireland’s defeat of Argentina on 21 November, and also missed games earlier this year due to concussion issues.

The 25-year-old has passed his return to play protocols but will now see an independent concussion consultant in line with World Rugby’s guidelines around head injuries.

“We’re just following all the protocols,” Contepomi said.

“He passed the return to play but then there is a World Rugby protocol to see a specialist, and he’s following that. But it’s all quite positive in that he’s passing all the tests he’s going through at the moment.”


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Ciarán Kennedy


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