Felipe Contepomi backs Harry Byrne to bounce back from latest injury blow

Young outhalf suffered hip injury in victory over Zebre at the RDS

Dan Leavy is back, Adam Byrne has just come back, both of them from long-term injury. For that alone there was a warm, sunny feeling in the RDS, the one blemish outhalf Harry Byrne limping off, fate picking him to show professional sport's occasionally lugubrious side.

A hip pointer injury will keep the medical staff fussing and Byrne out of action for this week anyway. But it is ferociously bad luck for the 22-year-old, who had hoped to hustle some game time as Leinster outhalf, the position that provides a never ending sub-narrative in Leo Cullen’s side.

"Trying to make an impression . . . he is trying to get some game time," said Felipe Contepomi. The former Argentinean playmaker was saying what everyone was thinking.

“Like anyone here . . . whenever they have the chance or whenever he has the chance he wants to go out and enjoy. Yeah, I feel sorry for him because he has been training hard and he’s been on and off with niggles and injury and some sickness and so he needs . . . it’s another setback.”

In his first appearance of the season, Byrne would not have been satisfied for the short time he was on the pitch, which will add hurt to his injury. That and the fact Irish coach Andy Farrell was eagerly watching had all the stars aligned in a frustrating way.

But as Contepomi pointed out on Monday, Byrne is an ambitious young player with time on his side. He needs only look at Leavy and Adam Byrne, who had been sidelined for the guts of two years, to find encouragement or maybe more importantly patience. The widely shared photograph of try-scoring Adam Byrne with his mother after the match warmed more people in Ballsbridge than the balmy autumn afternoon.

Speaking further about Harry Byrne, Contepomi added: “Yeah, I think in terms of his mentality he’s good, he’s a guy who always tries to see the positives and so on. But you can imagine it’s a setback and he was so keen to get back after a very weird injury as well on the foot, and coming back he put some great effort in to work himself back into the team.

“So it’s a personal upset probably, but he knows he needs to keep on track and get himself stronger and better and make sure he gets it right.”

Johnny Sexton, who came into the match a long time before he would have expected to against Zebre, Harry's brother Ross and centre Ciarán Frawley won't allow the 10 position chill. Cold comfort is that at least one will be involved in the November international series.

“I’m sure he’ll get more changes and possibilities, but it’s putting it in context, it’s not just what’s next in the next week,” explained Contepomi. “It’s the whole year. He’s young, he has his whole career in front of him, so he needs to get it right from the beginning in terms of physically, I mean.”

Johnny Watterson

Johnny Watterson

Johnny Watterson is a sports writer with The Irish Times