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Dublin: 21 °C Thursday 13 August, 2020
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'There's no patience or waiting, it's just go': Ryan Baird is in business

The 20-year-old powerhouse was grateful for the influence of Peter O’Mahony when he got to experience the senior Ireland setup.

Image: Tom O'Hanlon/INPHO

HE’LL BE 21 in the summer, but 2020 has already seen Ryan Baird get his hands on key elements of what promises to be a fine career.

On Friday night he won a second start for Leinster and made his impact felt all over the park as Glasgow Warriors were walloped 55-19. On top of Trojan workload Baird added an outrageous hat-trick to his tally, with the second score proving particularly jaw-dropping as his 6’6″ frame scorched an angled trail to the line from 40 metres.

Showing his destructive carrying ability in the tight and loose against Glasgow won’t help him thrive in the future, but the responsibility of calling the line-out will.

“It’s my first time calling line-outs, wasn’t perfect. It kind of shows you you have to take the simple options when it’s on,” Baird said post-match as he cut an unreasonably humble figure facing the media on the back of his man-of-the-match performance.

ryan-baird-during-a-line-out Baird takes a line-out at the RDS. Source: Tom O'Hanlon/INPHO

Baird is composed, affable and willing to chat in the aftermath of his hat-trick. He mentions that he has a tendency to be hard on himself and so he is not the least bit irked when conversation changes from Friday night’s high point to a low last the summer.

Hat-tricks and man-of-the-match gongs quickly wash away previous struggles in public perception, but Baird carries the scar and vivid memories of his 20th minute red card against Australia in the World Rugby U20 Championship.

As it turned out, the card (for a high tackle on a ducking Australia out-half Will Harrison) was to be rescinded, but the power of appeal came too late for Ireland in that match. And Baird knew it the instant he made contact, hands reflexively whipped onto the top of his head.

“I had given away one or two penalties in the game before and I knew I had to keep my discipline in that game. Tackle technique there wasn’t 100% and that reaction said it all.

“In the huddle after I felt I’d let down the team. Their second row scored a try off the restart exactly where I would have been. That would have been a real tough moment for me. Straight after the game I went over to my dad and I was just crying in his arms. It hit me that I’d really let down the team.

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ryan-baird-receives-a-red-card Baird walks the walk in Ireland's U20 loss to Australia. Source: Pablo Gasparini/INPHO

“In fairness, the lads got around me and supported me really well. It brought us together as a team.”

Que sera sera.

Baird makes a few mentions of how he is on a ‘learning curve’, so the ups and downs are all a part of the pathway. He’s not sure whether the red card in Argentina was a necessary evil but it, and the bounce-back display against Italy, are in his bank of experience now.

ryan-baird-evades-a-tackle-from-george-horne Source: Tommy Grealy/INPHO

So too is the more recent memory of training with Andy Farrell’s senior international squad. The new head coach added to excitement and expectation for change in his new regime by including the 20-year-old as a project player for the pre-tournament camp in Portugal ahead of the Six Nations. There, Baird says, Peter O’Mahony was of particularly help in offering guidance.

After trampling across the Warriors over and over again, Baird said he is starting to feel comfortable at senior professional level. He has no cause to be patient now, he’s ready for much more.

Get hit, get up, go again. If you get smacked, you get up and try to smack someone back. It’s a continual learning curve, you’ll figure things out.

“If you’re physical and keep trying then you’ll eventually get there. There’s no patience or waiting, it’s just go.”

And once he gets going, he’s a hard man to stop.

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Sean Farrell

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