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Pin-point Byrne kicking his way into Leinster line-up

Charlie Peat

5 Jan 2018

Leinster can call on international fly-half pair Johnny Sexton and Joey Carbery, but this season they have uncovered another kicking gem in the shape of Ross Byrne, who shone once against against Munster on St Stephen’s Day.

The young fly-half, who will start against Ulster this weekend, kicked 12 points in the triumph at Thomond Park but it was his sensational cross-field punt that picked out Dan Leavy to dot down after just eight minutes that drew plenty of plaudits.

Since making his debut two years ago, the 22-year-old has shown remarkable consistency in the kicking department, becoming a key weapon for Leo Cullen’s men.

In a team which boasts plenty of prowess with the boot, Byrne has managed to hoover up 90 points from his 15 appearances in all competitions this season.

And Irish fly-half has amassed 164 points in the past two seasons from the boot, kicking with a 76 per cent success rate.

But it’s Byrne’s cross-field kicking that has made him such a threat in the Leinster attack – making a remarkable six assists from cross-field kicks alone since the start of last season.

Leinster backs coach Girvan Dempsey is very familiar with Byrne’s kicking ability and believes it won’t be long before we see the fly-half joining the likes of Sexton and Carbery on the international stage.

“Ross is a quality player and he has grown year on year,” he said.

“He has become a lot more comfortable in driving the team during the week as well.

“He has learned a huge amount from Johnny [Sexton]. They both help each other. He’s on the road to that [international call-up], but it’s up to others to make that call.”

Byrne has proven himself as a reliable kicker but he is also good with ball in hand, making 11 break passes and six try passes since the start of the 2016/17 season.

Defensively, Byrne has also shown his qualities, making 149 successful tackles out of 176, a success rate of 84.6 per cent in the last 18 months.

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