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This year could be extra special says Byrne

Guinness PRO12 Editor

28 May 2010


Lee Byrne already has two Magners League winners’ medals to his name but the Ospreys full back says winning a third title this year would be an entirely different experience.

Byrne first tasted Magners League glory with the Scarlets in 2004 before winning a second crown with his current region three years later.

But while those achievements were certainly special, the introduction of the Play-Off system will make a third triumph even more memorable.

"I've won it twice before but it's a bit different this year – the Play-Offs have added a twist to it,” said Byrne, who is expected to start in a star-studded Ospreys back three that should also include fellow British & Irish Lions Tommy Bowe and Shane Williams.

"Play-offs have been in place in England for a while now and you have to look at how clubs like Wasps time their run just right to finish in the play-offs as the form team, and have then gone on to do well in the knock-outs. This is the way it is now.

"We've been on a good run to move up the table towards the end of the season and it means we are in with a chance of winning it.

"In the past, Leinster would have won the league but everybody knew what the format was before the first ball was kicked last September.

"It's good for the fans, for the media and it creates excitement and a big game to end the season with a winner takes all situation."

But while Byrne follows so many others in admitting he is a huge fan of the Play-Offs, his true enjoyment of the new system will depend largely on the result against Leinster in Saturday’s Grand Final.

Win, and the Ospreys will be on an almighty high. Lose, and they’ll experience an unbearable low.

Having not beaten Leinster in their last six attempts, the Ospreys know history will be against them when they arrive in Dublin. But a close defeat at the end of a hectic week when the two sides last met in mid-April has given Byrne and co hope that Saturday will see a change in fortunes.

"They've not lost at home in the Magners League in about 18 months so we know it's going to be tough, but they've got to lose some time and hopefully it's going to be our time,” added Byrne.

"We went close out there last month, but close isn't good enough – we have to go one better this time.

"It was the end of a hard week, we'd played three games on the road and had the disappointment of Biarritz, but to get so close to Leinster in that game maybe surprised a few people and will give us the confidence to really believe in ourselves on Saturday. If we can go one step further, it should be a good night.

"Whatever competition you are in, you want to be in the final and that's what we've done. The next challenge is to get out there on Saturday evening and perform the way we can.

"We want to try to make sure we do ourselves justice on the day and, if we hit the standards we have been, it could be a good night for us.”