Dan Leavy eager to grasp every opportunity with both hands

In-form flanker keenly aware of battle for starting places within Leinster camp

Leinster’s Dan Leavy and Jamison Gibson Park celebrate the win over Munster at Thomond Park. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Leinster’s Dan Leavy and Jamison Gibson Park celebrate the win over Munster at Thomond Park. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

 

Leinster flanker Dan Leavy’s man-of-the-match performance in the province’s 34-24 Guinness Pro14 victory over Munster at Thomond Park was bookended by two turnover penalties at rucks.

The first occurred as Leinster chased Ross Byrne’s opening kick-off, the 23-year-old the immovable object as a couple of Munster players discovered. Leavy’s guttural roar and clenched fists in winning a penalty at a ruck late-on following a sustained period of Munster pressure brooked no argument as to how he felt.

 He admitted: “Yeah, I got pretty excited after that one, so much so I had Nigel [Owens, the referee] laughing at me and I had to apologise. When the lads dig in like that and defend, it was 20 plus phases, and then come away with a positive result like that it just shows the strength of the [band of] brothers and how hard the team works for each other. It was brilliant.”

And so pretty much for the entire game was Leavy.

If the sundry interprovincial clashes over the Christmas period can be viewed as a series of quasi Irish trials, then Leavy put down a substantial marker given the calibre of his performance. Connacht visit the RDS on Monday and he would have no issue if he’s called upon to tog out once again.

“It is very competitive at Leinster, so you take your opportunities when you get them. I think I put my hand up well. We have a quick turnaround. There are a few more opportunities to play before Europe again. It’s important to keep the foot on the throttle.”

The issue of squad rotation is less appealing to players.

“Lads can be pretty disappointed during the year not getting a run. Around the Christmas period with three games in 11 days [Leinster play Ulster again at the RDS on Saturday week] you can’t play the same team; there’d be too many injuries.

Physical encounter

“It gives everyone an opportunity to put their hand up and say ‘I want to be on the starting team’. Everyone is raring to play. A great win, missing some of the players that have been starting a lot of the European games, is fantastic.

“They [Connacht] had a great win against Ulster. I think they just won their first-up collisions; they beat up Ulster so it’s going to be a physical encounter and we have got to be ready for that. You could have all the excuses in the world after coming down here [Thomond Park] and getting a good win but we need to make sure we are right. I’m sure there’ll be a bit of rotation.”

Munster captain Peter O’Mahony was understandably disappointed in the immediate aftermath but there was a generosity to his words about Leinster’s performance before he addressed his own team’s issues on the day.

“It’s hard to put my finger on it now, I’ll have to look back but it just felt like we didn’t get any bounce of the ball. Ah that’s unfair, they played very well and their game plan was very effective; we just struggled to contain them.

“I was very impressed, they’ve proved over the last few weeks how good they are and to come out this week and put a performance in like that in the first 40 is impressive. You have to go out and get a foothold in the game and we did that [after half-time] and scored two tries quite quickly.

“It shows that if we rock up in the right frame of mind we can do damage but if you let a team like that get away from you, it’s very difficult even with two tries after half-time.”

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