Dan Leavy isn’t the patient type.
Out for six weeks with an ankle injury recently, he made his reappearance off the bench for Leinster 50 minutes into their Champions Cup win away to Glasgow last weekend and, within seconds, he had coughed up a penalty.
One of only five the province conceded across the afternoon.
“It was the first game back for me, that’s probably not an excuse,” said Leavy. “Bit of rush of blood. I knew straight away what I had done, but I’m looking to right the wrongs this week against Ulster, make sure I’m squeaky clean again.”
Amends have already been made. The 23-year old flanker finished the game with eight tackles to his name, a notable number, given his late arrival and it ranked him fourth overall in that ladder when Leinster’s stats were totted up.
It has, he admits, been a hugely frustrating period. Leavy has been earmarked as a talent since his mid-teens playing Junior Cup at St Michael’s and it’s over four years since he got his first run with the Leinster seniors in a pre-season friendly against Northampton.
Injuries held him back at first, but he broke through last season with 26 appearances for Leinster and four caps for his country, the last of them against Japan delivering his first start and his first two tries.
The likelihood is that he will be afforded a decent wedge of game-time at the Kingspan Stadium this Saturday, but Joe Schmidt will have announced his extended Ireland squad by then, so it remains to be seen how much the summer tour will stand to him.
“The decision isn’t up to me. All I can do is keep trucking [and] try and put in some big performances. We have Ulster then Glasgow away and then into the November break. It’s not really in my hands.
“The injury… there’s never a good time to get injured, but it was pretty frustrating so, again, all I have to do is put up my hand and try to get back in.”
That Leavy backs himself is obvious. His self-confidence is evident every time he speaks. It is hard to imagine many of his colleagues using the word ‘victoire’ in a press conference as he did earlier this week.
His time with Schmidt and Ireland, three weeks under the eye of a renowned coach, tactician and taskmaster, was eagerly digested and the Kiwi left him with a few ‘work-ons’ to ponder when they returned from the Far East.
They are likely tweaks, rather than major alterations.
Leo Cullen, for instance, preferred him to Josh van der Flier and Rhys Ruddock at six for last season’s Champions Cup quarter-final against Wasps, even though both were already established internationals.
Both have banked considerable game-time in Leavy’s recent absence, however, with Ruddock, in particular, putting in the sort of monstrous displays that can’t but turn the head of Schmidt as he plans ahead for South Africa, Fiji and Argentina.
Belfast won’t be the easiest place for Leavy to make up that lost ground. Leinster have lost their last five games at the Kingspan and they face a home side hurting after a heavy European loss to La Rochelle in France.
“They are the same as most teams at home. You never want to get beaten in your own backyard, so they have the crowd behind them. They will be very fired up, especially after the game at the weekend. We have to go up and make sure we are ready for the physical battle.”
No better man.
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