Beirne put Test hopes on hold in rise through Llanelli ranks

For the Scarlets the celebrations will be shortlived.

Liam Williams and Jonathan Davies are off to New Zealand with the Lions. A good eight or nine more of their clubmates will be on Wales duty shortly and John Barclay will skipper Scotland as they backpack around Singapore, Sydney and Suva.

Ireland, of course, are off to Japan but Tadhg Beirne will be on holidays in Vietnam.

Such is the way of things for any Irish player who makes a life for himself in the pro game outside this island.

Migrate beyond the reach of the four provinces and you will be swapping your boots for flip-flops come the international windows.

Beirne is unlikely to have even considered the ramifications for any Test ambitions when he swapped the Leinster Academy for a shot at nothing with the Scarlets last year. It’s only now, after his incredible rise through the Llanelli ranks, that this has become an issue.

“If I want to play for Ireland, I’ve to come home,” he said. “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.”

How quickly has all this happened? Well, pretty damn fast when you consider the fact that it was only this week last year when he put pen to paper with the West Wales club. It was either that or chuck the rugby in and commit to a Masters in real estate at DIT.

“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,” he revealed. “It was the best decision I ever made. It’s worked out for me in every aspect.”

Ambitions were modest and mostly personal. Train your ass off, try and impress the new boss and maybe chalk up a few appearances. A second row who does a mean impression of a blindside flanker, he’s actually been a revelation. As have the Scarlets in general.

“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, and be crowned champions is absolutely incredible.” The only wonder is that it took so many so long to realise how good they could be. Odds of 11/4 on the Scarlets prior to the game were astonishing given the manner in which Connacht, Ospreys and Leinster had all been defeated.

It’s unlikely Pivac was pinning too many Irish articles on the dressing-room walls but Beirne’s background still clearly plays a part in his reading habits and he was somewhat taken aback by the pre-match expectations on this side of the Irish Sea.

“No offence to anyone here, but a lot of Irish papers didn’t give us a chance going into this game. If you’ve been watching us the last few weeks and seen the pace we play at, the turnover ball, we’ve been incredible.”

And with that he was off. To Vietnam, via Krystle nightclub as he joked on Saturday night, after which he’ll spend some down time with the family in Kildare. It’s surely a matter of time before he lands home for good. Where exactly, though? Form an orderly queue, all.

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