Ross Byrne can complete an interesting treble for Leinster should he make his Ireland debut off the bench against Australia at Allianz Stadium this morning.
If the 23-year-old makes his first test appearance replacing provincial team-mate and starting 10 Johnny Sexton Byrne will be the third Leinster fly-half to perform the role for his country on this end of season tour.
Joey Carbery started the first test, Sexton the second and has retained the playmaking duties this weekend, but Byrne’s Leinster cohorts in the Ireland camp believe his introduction to the ranks is long overdue.
For all the concern Carbery’s lack of gametime at fly-half for Leinster generated this season, his rival for the blue No 10 jersey during Sexton’s absences was the one making life so difficult for the player who has now decided to join Munster.
Byrne made 19 starts at out-half in Leinster’s double-winning campaign this season, including against Montpellier in the Champions Cup pool stages and in the PRO14 semi-final against Munster last month, both of them victories.
“I’m delighted for Ross Byrne to get onto the bench and show what he’s got because he’s been mightily impressive any time he’s played for Leinster,” Jack McGrath said after his club-mate was named on the replacements bench on Thursday.
McGrath sees similarities between Byrne and Sexton and thinks filling the senior partner’s shoes will be as seamless for Ireland as it has been with Leinster.
“I think they are very similar. Any time Ross has got a chance he’s been very good for us, and in big games, over there in Montpellier he just seamlessly slotted in.
“He hadn’t played for a while before that semi-final against Munster and he had a cracking game. Like Joey, things don’t faze them. They’re different players obviously but it’s great to have a guy like that you can turn to at his age and he’s giving you direct orders and where you need to be going and that’s what you want from your 10.”
Starting lock James Ryan, a fellow graduate of Byrne’s from St Michael’s College in Dublin, is similarly impressed with his friend’s elevation to the Test squad.
“It is great for Byrno, I am sure he has learned a lot over the last few weeks,” Ryan said. “It is great he has been asked to step up, so it is exciting times for him to hopefully get his opportunity.
“He is a couple of years ahead of me. When I was in fourth year, he was sixth year, we played together then.
“His strong points are his calmness, his ability to find space, he does not seem to get fazed by very much, which is a really good trait, especially when you are the playmaker. He is huge craic, too.”
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