By James O'Connor
From clinging onto his professional career two years ago, hype is building around Ireland’s latest cap Tadhg Beirne after his summer move to Munster.
The powerful forward wreaked havoc in the Guinness Pro14 for Scarlets last year, and he will now ply his trade at Thomond Park week-in week-out, a process made much easier by Ireland’s summer tour of Australia.
“It was great to actually meet a few of the Munster boys. I’d known a few of them through the Ireland U20’s and I knew Andrew Conway when he was at Leinster. But when I might have gone to Limerick in the past, I wouldn’t have been comfortable picking up the phone to them, if that makes sense,” he told Rugby Players Ireland.
“Having gone on tour though, I’d be happy to catch them for a coffee when I get down there- and I intend to. That is going to be huge for me in terms of settling in at Munster.”
Beirne’s current position is an entirely different place to the one in which he found himself in two years ago.
Carrying the reputation of a talented but injury-prone lock, and with the expiration of his Leinster contract imminent, things were looking bleak for the forward.
In an awkward position, he saw Lansdowne as the best place to revive his career.
“I was clinging to my professional career at that stage. I always seemed to get injured at the wrong time and when I got back, other lads would be ahead of me in the queue.
“Lansdowne knew what I could do so they were more than happy to use me whenever possible and I managed to rack up a few games with them.
"Leinster obviously kept an eye on me and I managed to get a short-term contract on the back of my form. Ultimately, that put me in the shop window for Scarlets, so I’ve a lot to thank the Ulster Rugby League for.”
Two years on, and in the wake of winning the 2018 Pro14 Player’s Player of the Season, the next chapter in Beirne’s blossoming career starts on Saturday under the lights of Thomond Park.
“It’s going to be a big change for me. The culture at Munster is unique and I can’t wait to see it and feel it for myself as a Munster player. I can’t wait to get going.”