James Crombie/INPHO Ireland’s Ryan Baird celebrates winning.
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'I saw it and thought, 'this is what Tadhg Beirne would do', so I just did what he'd do!'
Ireland lock Ryan Baird made some big contributions on the biggest day of his young career.

RYAN BAIRD has had to wait for his chance in a game of this magnitude but yesterday the 23-year-old took the opportunity with both hands when handed a starting berth against England.

It represented only Baird’s third Test start – the previous two coming against the USA and Italy – but the second row more than played his part in Ireland’s 29-16 win at Aviva Stadium.

Aggressive and dynamic, there’s been much excitement around Baird’s potential for a couple of years now and on a special day at Lansdowne Road he got to showcase that ability on the biggest stage yet – including a brilliant steal on the ground just before the hour mark.

“I saw it, and thought, ‘this is what Tadhg Beirne would do’, so I just did what he’d do!” Baird said. “I’m not taking credit there, I just copied him!”

Baird was talking on the side of the pitch just minutes after the Ireland squad had lifted the Six Nations trophy.

“Just trying to sink it in at the moment, it’s a bit surreal,” he continued. “You come off the pitch and just think of the work you’ve done over the last two or three years, and how it accumulates to a performance.

“Our first-half performance, we weren’t happy when we came in but second half we put our foot down and we executed on a couple of plays.

It’s just surreal, all the work you put in and to come and actually do it… It will take a while to sink in, I’m trying to soak the atmosphere now, I’m going to go see my family, my friends, I’m going to have a good night.

“I only met someone in The Shelbourne the other day who I went to school with in High School. I don’t remember, but he said I was always saying I would be here, and to think one day you could be here with this bunch of lads, it’s very special, you know?”

Baird was first capped during the 2021 Six Nations and although he can play in both the second and back rows he’s had to be patient, with Andy Farrell not exactly short on depth in either departments.

The 23-year-old admitted to feeling a some pre-game nerves ahead of what was the biggest day of his young career so far.

“I was quite nervous, but everyone was nervous, but we focus so much on staying in the present and focusing on the next moment and that’s all I tried to do. There were images popping in of lifting the trophy, but I just had to keep coming back to the present.

“It was talked about all week, how we deal with the big moments, but I never played in one of these big games, so for me to come out and experience and try deliver my best for the team was a real special challenge.

“First half I could have done better, but the second half I really felt I dug in. That turnover was an accumulation of hard work I felt, and to put it in position for the boys to maul it, and then Sheeno (Dan Sheehan) finishing that incredible try was special.”

Naturally, thoughts will now turn towards the World Cup later this year. As good as Andy Farrell’s side have been over the past 12 months, there is a feeling there could still be more to come.

“We can use this, we can definitely use this but now it’s just about enjoying the moment. I’ve never won a Grand Slam before, so I’m not going to think about anything further than the next 10 minutes.”

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