Beirne's Munster ambition burns bright as he gets set for first clash with Scarlets

The Kildare man is set to face his old team for the first time since joining Munster.

TWO YEARS IN Wales with the Scarlets were the making of Tadhg Beirne as he stayed largely injury-free and fulfilled his longstanding potential, helping the region to a Pro14 title in 2017 as he became a huge fan favourite.

Beirne had a strong offer to stay on with Scarlets in 2018 and potentially qualify to play for Wales, but the carrot of international rugby with his native Ireland was impossible to ignore and so the Kildare man moved to Munster.

It pained him to leave team-mates and supporters alike at Scarlets, meaning Beirne could have been forgiven for dreading playing against his old friends with Munster in the Pro14.

tadhg-beirne Beirne calls a lineout in last weekend's pre-season win over Connacht. James Crombie / INPHO James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO

Oddly enough, it hasn’t happened just yet but that is set to change on Saturday as Johann van Graan’s men visit Parc y Scarlets looking to get their 2020/21 season off to a strong start.

“It will be a bit of a strange one,” says Beirne. “Going back to Parc Y Scarlets, ideally it would be nice going back there with a bit of a crowd there but it probably works out in our favour as well because I know how effective they can be over there.

“But I’m excited to play them, I’m excited to play the lads.”

While there have been plenty of changes at Scarlets since his time there, Beirne says he reflects on his two seasons in Wales “with a big smile on my face,” certain that it was pivotal to his career.

While Beirne is firmly at home with Munster now, it hasn’t been completely plain sailing on the pitch as the province have suffered a few more semi-final defeats since his move in 2018. Having won silverware with Scarlets, there is work to be done with Munster.

Beirne was unlucky to break his ankle back in January in the Champions Cup, meaning he missed the 2020 Six Nations campaign before it was put on hold, meaning he will have hopes of adding to his 13 Ireland caps this autumn too.

Beirne turns 29 next January, so is hopefully coming towards his prime and has big ambitions still to fulfill.

“There’s a lot of lads who play on until they’re 35 and you look at some lads going into a European final, they’re still 35, 36-year-olds going in there so it’s never too late to win silverware,” says Beirne.

tadhg-beirne-and-tom-farrell Beirne is always a major breakdown threat. James Crombie / INPHO James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO

“You can never not be ambitious and I wanna keep going for as long as I can, and right now my goal is to win some silverware with Munster and keep pushing to get into the Irish squad, and into a jersey there and hopefully win silverware there as well.

“But right now, with this week that’s coming, I have to play for Munster and prove myself here and then put in a good performance that might, in the long run, put my hand up for Andy Farrell’s plans.”

Beirne says he’s happy to play in the second row or at blindside flanker depending on Munster’s requirements and tactics for specific games, so it will be intriguing to note how Johann van Graan and Farrell deploy his strengths.

As is the case for van Graan, Beirne is encouraged by the talent coming through in Munster’s squad as they look to finally get over their semi-final hurdle in 2020/21.

“You do see some good talent,” says Beirne. “Liam Coombes is one of the fastest guys I’ve seen out there in a long time, he’s been really showing up at training.

“The three young lads at 10 – Ben [Healy], Jake [Flannery] and Jack [Crowley] – they’re all playing really well and they’re really putting their hands up.

“From that perspective, those guys are really showing what they can do and even the forwards, Tom [Aherne] has really grown as a player for sure, calling lineouts and all that kind of thing.

“It’s a positive for Munster and it’s great to see some younger lads starting to put their hand up.”

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