Rugby Liam Toland: Ireland need Ross Byrne at his controlling best

Rugby This is one elegant constituent.

On October 6th last year I nominated Ross Byrne for man of the match; this was at odds with my instinct which screamed by far the best player on the pitch and most important element to Leinster’s win was James Lowe. He was superb; the tries he scored, well I’m not sure anyone else in the stadium could have done it. However, my selection was not based on the obvious, which was Lowe, but the tactically important; Lowe’s provider.

A few months prior Byrne was third-choice outhalf at Leinster behind Johnny Sexton and Joey Carbery, not yet in Munster. The match I refer to was arguably the biggest of his career, at home, in front of a full Aviva Stadium against Munster and although nothing he did that day could remotely compare to Lowe’s impact he did more than accommodate Lowe and his team-mates; Ireland require his functionality tomorrow. But for some reason Byrne is not in Ireland’s sporting consciousness a la Sexton or swashbuckler Carbery. Byrne, against Munster, could’ve crumbled under the immense pressure that famed number 10 jersey places upon imposters. Clearly, he chose to impose himself on Leo Cullen’s game plan and did so with reasonable comfort.

Rugby Leinster’s James Lowe is congratulated by Ross Byrne after scoring a try against Munster. Ireland require the same functionality he showed in that game tomorrow. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho
Leinster’s James Lowe is congratulated by Ross Byrne after scoring a try against Munster. Ireland require the same functionality he showed in that game tomorrow. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

It’s a monster match for him against England and considering the physical onslaught that’ll arrive it’s one that’ll require less swashbuckle and more functionality and a kicking game far cleverer than the wonderful ruse of Carbery’s exit strategy against Italy.

I’ve watched England these past weekends and one thing really worries me. Not the power, that’s always been there, nor the set piece but the role their

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