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Irish Mirror
Irish Mirror
Michael Scully

From nowhere man to Grand Slam winner - Ross Byrne is loving his second chance with Ireland

From nowhere man to Grand Slam winner - Ross Byrne couldn't help but smile as he reflected on his journey.

The out-half wasn't mapped for Ireland duty this time last year and, until a late call-up before the last game of the 2022 Autumn series against Australia, he hadn't played for his country in 18 months.

However he came off the bench to score the winning penalty against the Wallabies and, impressed by how Byrne's game and leadership skills had improved for Leinster, Andy Farrell picked him and Jack Crowley as back-up to Johnny Sexton for this championship, with Joey Carbery losing out.

READ MORE: Grand Slam winner Mack Hansen: “I was taking some tablets before the game so I didn't s**t myself"

Byrne was excellent off the bench against Wales and France, started against Italy - it was his first Six Nations start - and steered the ship home against Scotland and England.

"Yeah, like I actually got incredibly emotional when I got my hands on the trophy," he said. "I suppose there were times when I thought I'd never be here again and to be here, it's really, really special.

"To win a Grand Slam at home is very special. To have everyone here is incredible."

Sexton's groin injury with four minutes to go gave the 27-year-old the chance to come on and close out the Grand Slam win.

"It was just see the game out," Byrne said. "Obviously we had a little bit of a lead and then we got a penalty and we scored again and it was just see the game out, get over the line.

"It was always going to be an incredibly tough game and with the result they had last week, they were obviously going to be fired up and yeah, look, they have top quality players."

There were plenty of nerves in evidence out there. "Yeah, that's human nature," Byrne shrugged. "But I think you saw in the second half we put a lot of stuff together and we got there in the end.

"The whole squad, I don't know how many players we used, obviously we lost three players last week but before that we lost lads through the campaign and the squad effort has been absolutely incredible, and not only those here on the pitch but the lads who didn't get to play as well, the effort they put in in training.

"And I suppose that's a big difference for us, the competition is incredible.

"We obviously go away now to our provinces and after winning this now, look, we just have to build on it."

Next up, after Leo Cullen corrals his Ireland players back into camp, is the small matter of a Champions Cup last 16 clash with Ulster at the Aviva Stadium.

With Sexton's injury, Byrne is poised to be centre stage for that one.

"We'll worry about that in a couple of weeks," he grinned.


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