TADHG BEIRNE WOULD love to hear from Ireland coach Joe Schmidt this week, but isn’t counting his chickens on getting a call for the NatWest 6 Nations.
Schmidt may be missing a host of front line players and could undoubtedly do with the help of one of the form players in European club rugby, but the fact the Munster-bound lock is still playing at the Scarlets looks like delaying his Irish debut until the summer at the earliest.
With Jamie Heaslip, Rhys Ruddock and Sean O’Brien all struggling for fitness, Beirne could offer back row cover as well as his all-action style as a second row. Scarlets coach Wayne Pivac can’t understand why fellow Kiwi, Schmidt, hasn’t capped Beirne already.
“I’ve been very pleased with him. It is fantastic to see the way he is playing and it is very disappointing he is leaving,” said Pivac.
“He is going to be a hard act to follow. If he moves back to Ireland and gains international experience then we will take great pride in that — maybe we will see him back here one day.
“His improvement hasn’t happened by accident. It is credit to our coaching staff and it is all about drills, drills and more drills aligned to what we take into the game.
“When he came to us his catch-pass was poor and he has worked very, very hard. The try he was involved in against Bath, and the general game he had, showed his performances have gone through the roof.”
The 26-year-old one-time Leinster reject has been simply sensational since joining the PRO12 champions in 2016. The IRFU managed to beat off a mighty financial offer from the Scarlets to sign him for next season and at least he will be heading to Munster later in the year.
But Schmidt’s refusal to pick a player who has committed his long-term future to Irish rugby, and is playing some of the best rugby of his life, is baffling to all Scarlets fans and players.
Beirne, himself, remains very matter-of-fact about it all, despite his stunning try in the Champions Cup victory over Bath, which saw him sidestep Lions star Anthony Watson.
I’ve heard nothing from Joe, so I try not to think about it too much — if it happens, it happens. There is no point in getting up my hopes,” said Beirne, who will be hoping to guide the Scarlets to a home win over Toulon this weekend to reach the Champions Cup quarter-finals for the first time in 12 years. “It has been said to me that I am abroad, so I have to go home and play. I’m going home next season, so maybe that might be a reason for them to pick me.
“If that’s the case, then I’ll gladly say ‘yes’. If not, I’m just going to focus on each game and each week with the Scarlets.”
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