Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Pete Wilkins: Adam Byrne's omission from South Africa tour 'no big story'

Byrne will have to wait until at least the first home game against Munster next month to make his debut.

CONNACHT HEAD COACH Pete Wilkins is confident that newly appointed captain Jack Carty will join them during their two-match tour in South Africa and that he might make his seasonal debut in the third round against the Bulls on Friday week.

Carty was not included in the 28-man squad which departed Dublin on Monday afternoon for Qatar on their way to Cape Town where they will meet champions the Stormers on Saturday.

Lock Gavin Thornbury, who captained the side in their dismal 36-10 loss to Ulster on Saturday, and flanker Conor Oliver have also been ruled out, but it’s expected that Carty, who underwent wrist surgery during the summer, will link up with them.

“Yeah, I think there is a good chance of Jack joining the tour. He won’t be available for selection this week and we will see where he’s at for the following week.

“He’s at that point now where he is just about ready to play, so we will let him continue his rehabilitation this week in Galway, and make a decision at the end of the week. He’s tracking well.”

peter-wilkins Evan Treacy / INPHO Evan Treacy / INPHO / INPHO

Meanwhile, Wilkins said there was no mystery surrounding the absence of former Leinster winger Adam Byrne from the travelling party, having also been omitted from the squad which did duty in Belfast on Saturday.

Byrne was one of four players to make the move west from Leinster during the summer.

The other three — prop Peter Dooley, replacement out-half David Hawkshaw, and in particular flanker Josh Murphy — showed glimpses on Saturday during their competitive debuts of why Andy Friend and his management team were keen to bring them to the Sportsground.

Byrne, who scored 24 tries in 66 appearances for Leinster and was capped by Ireland against Argentina in 2017, did not feature in the Belfast drubbing and with John Porch, Byron Ralston, Mack Hansen and Oran McNulty travelling to South Africa.

26-year-old Byrne will have to wait until at least the first home game against Munster next month to make his bow.

“No big story really,” added Wilkins when asked about Byrne’s omission.

“I think we have got real improved depth for those back-three players now. Adam has done a good job through pre-season and he will get plenty of opportunities this year, but for this two-game block and the travel that’s involved, we picked a group with, certainly we think quality in it, but also a bit of utility value as well.

“Adam will train hard back in Galway with some of those other guys. We will see him pretty soon.”

Wilkins has taken a more hands-on role with Connacht after being promoted to head coach after Friend moved to the newly-created director of rugby position, and the English native who spent five seasons with the Queensland Reds comes into the job on the back of being part of Andy Farrell’s successful coaching team in New Zealand.

“Look, I found it immensely valuable,” he added. “Obviously, it was a privilege to be involved in terms of being invited. But also then to be able to share in the success they had. I was very humbled by that.

“From a rugby perspective, there were several things that I took out of it that I think we can adapt and put our take on for Connacht.

“I just think how the train, the intensity they generate within training is a key part in terms of then seeing how that transfers to how they play the game.

“It’s something that we have been chasing for the last couple of years. But it’s always good to see a different version of good or a version of other people who are seeing it through a different lens I suppose.

“So, how we train, how we prepare to train, how we review training in terms of the messaging we give players – that’s been incredibly helpful.

“There are aspects of that we will adopt and aspects of that we will put our own slant on. I think that will help grow us as a coaching group and as a rugby programme as well.”

Your Voice
Readers Comments
This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
Leave a Comment
    Submit a report
    Please help us understand how this comment violates our community guidelines.
    Thank you for the feedback
    Your feedback has been sent to our team for review.

    Leave a commentcancel