Leinster’s bid to claim a fifth Guinness PRO12 title fell at the semi-final hurdle last season, after they were undone by Scarlets in Dublin.
The province had finished second in the regular season and will be looking to bounce back in style.
And as they prepare for another bruising campaign, they will look to their pool of young talent to help give them the edge.
Centre Tom Daly had a 2016 to remember and after making a handful of appearances last season, the 23-year-old could play a crucial part in Leo Cullen‘s plans this time around.
Leinster can usually call upon a wealth of centre options, including the promising Carlow native.
But following the injuries to Garry Ringrose and Robbie Henshaw, who will both miss the opening months of the season, Cullen could well turn to Daly to fill the void in the centre of the park.
The highly physical Leinsterman has already made nine appearances for the province and is more than prepared to step into the big shoes of Ringrose and Henshaw.
Eye for a try
He may have only started two matches for the three-time European Champions Cup winners but Daly was able to produce two tries in his first two games against fellow Guinness PRO12 sides Zebre Rugby and Scarlets.
The Leinsterman is the perfect fit for the modern day centre and the young powerhouse also has leadership qualities to make him a valuable member of the team.
Daly was the captain of the Irish Sevens side in 2016 who fell agonisingly short of a spot at the Rio Olympics and after starring for the boys in green in the qualifiers, he was handed a senior contract by Cullen.
Hard work pays off
Daly doesn’t need to be reminded of how hard it is to break into the Leinster team.
The Carlow man has played at all levels of the fiercely competitive academy and is now rubbing shoulders with some of the best players in the league.
“There are no guarantees. Nobody will hand you a jersey in here. You fight for every step on that ladder. Whether that’s underage or Leinster ‘A’ or senior,” he said.
“You get knocked back or you get moments where it doesn’t go well but you also get brilliant highs and times when you have to be ready to capitalise.”
Daly is now preparing to make the next step up and be a Leinster regular and with opportunities coming thick and fast, we could be seeing a lot more of the talented 23-year-old this season.