November a chance for Leinster tyros to shine, reckons Byrne
If November brings established stars an opportunity to press their international cases, it is just as exciting and pivotal for those a rung lower on the rugby ladder.
Leinster face Southern Kings in South Africa on Sunday with seven academy players among the travelling party and loosehead prop Ed Byrne, whose career progress has been slowed by injury, says those outside the regular starters clamour for this shop window to come round.
“This month is a huge opportunity. People have been hungry for it to come around. To get some good game-time. It’s a massive chance for some of the younger lads to put their hands up and I’m really looking forward to this block.
“I’m just trying to get as much game-time here as I can. The loosehead position is obviously unbelievably competitive, so we’re all just hungry to get game-time and hungry to improve.
“The group has changed a lot in the last three weeks. There is a massive hunger. There is a bit of a buzz around the place. It’s a few lads’ first time down in South Africa, so I think people are very hungry to get game-time and make the most of it.”
Leinster have Ireland international Dan Leavy available, after the flanker was released by Joe Schmidt to join fellow seniors Scott Fardy, Dave Kearney and Michael Bent in Port Elizabeth. There are also three uncapped academy players: Scott Penny (flanker), Jimmy O’brien (centre) and Ronan Kelleher (hooker).