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Dublin: 7 °C Thursday 19 September, 2019
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A year on from deciding to have 'one more crack' at rugby, Beirne revels as a champion

‘I wanted to get game-time. I didn’t think I would be coming to Scarlets to become a Pro12 champion!’

Image: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

TADHG BEIRNE LAUGHS off a query about whether he had seen Ireland’s latest property boom coming.

It wouldn’t be the least bit surprising if he had.

After all, the Kildare man got on board with Scarlets at precisely the right time, joining Wayne Pivac’s squad this season ahead of their incredible run to the Pro12 title which culminated in a 46 – 22 trouncing of Munster on Saturday.

No. Of course Beirne’s journey to Wales was more complicated than him cherry-picking the team with the most potential. Far from it. The second row was on the verge of turning his back on professional rugby after his time with Leinster was plagued by injury.

“I think it was the last week in May when I signed (for Scarlets),” Beirne says, glowing with pride beneath a backward-turned snapback after striding out from the ecstatic away dressing room.

“I spoke to my parents and I said: ‘look, I want to have one more crack at it’.’

They said:’just go for it, you’ll regret it if you don’t.’ It was the best decision I ever made. It’s worked out for me in every aspect.”

That point can’t be overstated enough. From the injury travails in Ireland that restricted him to just four appearances for his native province, Beirne found himself fit and well to play 24 times for Scarlets season – his Leinster tally was matched by Champions Cup fixtures alone.

Tadhg Beirne scores a try Beirne forces his way to the Munster try-line. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

The 24-year-old’s power and mobility, combined with the catch-pass skills that Pivac demands, saw him impress not only on the domestic front, but also against Toulon and Saracens in the Champions Cup. The last few weeks and his wriggle to the try-line against Munster were merely icing on the cake of a sensational campaign.

This time last year was something of a sliding doors moment for Beirne, but he backed his ability.

It was make or break. It was sign for Scarlets or I was going to do a Masters in real estate at DIT.”

“It’s hard to put into words really. It’s been one of the best year of my life. Going to Scarlets, I wanted to get game-time. I didn’t think I would be coming to Scarlets to become a Pro12 champion!

“I remember sitting down with Wayne Pivac before I signed and he talked me through the whole team. I was like ‘It’s a pretty good team who could do well.’ But to think we would come the whole way, especially after our start (threee straight losses), and be crowned champions is absolutely incredible.”

Beirne’s celebrations won’t stretch the length and breath of the valleys. He’s booked himself on a flight to Vietnam today, jetting off on holiday while so many of the countrymen he’s out-played in recent weeks go on tour with Ireland and the Lions.

With a medal around his neck though, it’s feels odd asking Beirne about his lack of international recognition. It’s not something that overly bothers the Eadestown man. He’s delighted to have made the trade-off.

“If I want to play for Ireland, I’ve to come home. That’s the reality, they don’t pick you outside it.

“Everyone wants to play for their country since they’ve been kids. Right now I’ve another year at Scarlets, I’m going to focus on that. Contract talks, we’ll look at it then. Right now my focus is with Scarlets for another year. Right now I’m going to enjoy this, but we’ll look to do the Pro12, retain it…

“I’ve been asked a few times whether it’s a point to prove. Not really. there’s a little bit of an element about that. I’ve been lucky with my injuries and so I didn’t get my opportunity. My ability’s always been there. I’ve developed week-in, week-out since I got here.

“When I came here I just played my game and luckily I played really well.”

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Sean Farrell

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