‘I expect them to turn up with plenty of edge’

LEINSTER ASSISTANT COACH Robin McBryde is expecting to encounter a riled up Glasgow Warriors on the eastern province’s return to competitive action in the United Rugby Championship at the RDS this Saturday (kick-off 3.15pm).

At the quarter-final stage of last season’s inaugural URC in the same venue, Glasgow shipped 12 tries in an astonishing 76-14 defeat to the Blues. This led to the dismissal of Danny Wilson as the Scottish club’s head coach with Franco Smith subsequently stepping into the breach for the 2022/23 campaign.

The Warriors have recorded three wins from six thus far under the South African’s watch – including a recent 37-0 triumph at home to Benetton – and McBryde acknowledged the Leinster players will have to get back up to speed for their first URC game since 28 October .

“I expect them [Glasgow] to turn up with plenty of edge about them. They contest everything and after the last game last season, they’re probably still smarting from that and they’ll want to come back and set the record straight. Obviously there has been a bit of change with their coaching structure etc,” McBryde remarked.

“They’ve got good variation in their attacking strike plays. It will be a good test for us undoubtedly. We’ve got to make sure that we transition the boys back in as smooth as we can really. To make sure everybody is comfortable with our language and the way we do things. It will be a tough match for us on Saturday.”

While the autumn internationals placed the URC on hiatus, Leinster did squeeze in a friendly against Chile at Energia Park last Friday. This proved to be a productive work-out for Leo Cullen’s side with six tries – including a brace for hooker Lee Barron – propelling them towards a 40-3 success over the South Americans.

In addition to offering game-time to a mixture of senior fringe players and academy prospects, this encounter also saw four stars of the All-Ireland League – Conall Boomer, Cormac Daly, Thomas Connolly and Colm Hogan – getting a chance to showcase their worth .

As someone who came through the club system in Wales before embarking on a professional career in rugby, McBryde found it refreshing to have amateur players in the Leinster ranks for this game.

“We had a two week build-up into it and it was a little bit of a breath of fresh air. They offered something different. On the Captain’s Run day, Cormac Daly turns up in his work gear. He’s getting changed at the side of the pitch. That’s how it was back in the day, wasn’t it?

“It was just pure enjoyment. Conall Boomer, his class di lui, they were watching the game in school, with him playing. It was just a great experience for them. It was good for the Academy boys here as well, to see there is more to life than rugby as well. There was a bit more of a rounded approach, but it gave us that focus.”

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A Grand Slam-winning hooker in his own playing days, McBryde is working with two international number twos in the current Leinster set-up. Whereas Dan Sheehan will be eased back into the provincial system following his exploits for Ireland in the Autumn Nations Series, Rónan Kelleher is available for selection on Saturday after missing out on Irish selection in recent weeks owing to a hamstring injury.

Both players have time on their side – just under eight months separate the 24-year-old pair – despite already making sizable impacts for both province and country, and McBryde believes their potential remains unlimited.

“Listen, there is no ceiling on their growth at the moment. Dan is just really exploding on the scene and he’s just getting better and better every game. That’s similar to Ronan. He has been unlucky with the timing of his injury, but there is nothing better to keep you on your toes than a bit of competitiveness,” McBryde added.

“It will be good to see them going at it against each other and may the best man win. It’s one of those cases, isn’t it? Watch this space!”


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