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'If he doesn't leave Leinster, he'll still end up playing a lot of good rugby'

Ross Byrne is out of contract with his native province next summer.

Ross Byrne is out of contract at the end of the season.
Ross Byrne is out of contract at the end of the season.
Image: Bryan Keane/INPHO

ROSS BYRNE FACES a big decision over his future, with the Leinster out-half out of contract at the end of the season and attracting interest from abroad – as discussed on today’s episode of The42 Rugby Weekly podcast.

The 26-year-old has played back-up to Johnny Sexton at Leinster over the last few years but now faces competition from his younger brother, Harry. 

Tomorrow afternoon, Leo Cullen and Stuart Lancaster will announce their team to face Bath in the Champions Cup on Saturday and with Sexton set to miss out through injury, they have had to pick between Ross and Harry for the number 10 shirt.

Speaking on today’s episode of The42 Rugby Weekly, Bernard Jackman said he believes Leinster should go with the more experienced Ross this weekend.

“I’d go with Ross, to be honest, for the here and now,” said Jackman. “I do think that whatever 10 plays, they win but if you’re going to go with Ross next week (away to Montpellier) if Johnny is still out, then I think you have to start him this week.

“And I think Ciarán Frawley might start at 12 this week, just to give him another opportunity to impress. I thought he had lots of bright moments against Ulster even though the team were poor. I’d go with him this week and give him a shot.

“They’ll be on the front foot but I’d go with Ross and Frawley at 10 and 12.”

Following a question from The42 Rugby Weekly listener Neil Murphy asking whether Ross Byrne should move to Ulster, Jackman indicated that there are strong reasons for the out-half to stay with his native province.

Byrne hasn’t been in Andy Farrell’s Ireland squad recently but there are other reasons to extend his Leinster contract.

“Leinster have managed to keep the vast majority of those players who aren’t necessarily first-choice happy, which is a testament to how good the environment is there and to how nice Dublin 4 is to live in, and how they enjoy Dublin life,” said Jackman.

ross-byrne Byrne has 13 Ireland caps but hasn't featured recently. Source: Ben Brady/INPHO

“Players believe that if they stay with Leinster, they’re going to be in the shop window for Ireland and winning trophies. It’s very hard to find clubs – bar Toulouse, maybe Saracens or Exeter – where you can say that year on year.

“I think he could stay because of Johnny’s age profile and enjoy battling with his brother.

“Andy Farrell might pick Harry over Ross at the moment and I think some of that is down to trying to find out what the succession plan is for Sexton, whereas I think Leo and Stuart in Leinster when it comes to Europe and crunch games in the URC, they’ll pick the best XV for here and now.

“I reckon if Ross doesn’t leave Leinster, he’ll still end up playing a hell of a lot of rugby over the next three, four, five years, and good rugby as well.”

Niamh Briggs was in agreement that Ross Byrne deserves to start for Leinster this weekend against Bath, while she also shared her hope that Frawley might get a chance to play at out-half for the province at some point.

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“Here and now, I agree that Ross is further along in his development,” said Briggs. “I really liked Harry playing for the Ireland Under-20s but stepping up to senior level is a different kettle of fish and I still haven’t seen enough of him to be able to give a good argument for or against him.

“There’s still a huge amount of work to do. I don’t think Ross has ever played that poorly and what you’re looking for is for someone to have that kind of maturity. I think it should be Ross for the here and now.

“I’d be excited to see Frawley this weekend. I’d actually like to see how he gets on at 10 too and see how that would work. He’s a classy operator with a really good pass off left or right, a really good burst of speed, and his defence is unbelievable. I hope we get to see more of him.”

Today’s edition of The42 Rugby Weekly includes full previews of Munster’s mission against Wasps, Ulster’s big ask in Clermont, Connacht’s clash with Stade Francais, and Leinster’s home game against Bath, as well as some of the other big European action.


Source: The42 Rugby Weekly/SoundCloud

Bernard Jackman, Niamh Briggs, and Murray Kinsella discuss a massive weekend of Champions Cup rugby for the four Irish provinces.

Originally published at 19.o0

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