‘One good game doesn’t make me Ireland’s future No 10. I’ve got to back it up’

Having been over two years out of the Ireland frame, Ulster’s outhalf produced an outstanding display against Leinster to remind Andy Farrell of his ability

It has been 2½ years since Billy Burns played for Ireland.

A long time, but the Ulster outhalf, who was able to prise open Leinster on Monday with a couple of inch-perfect kicks, in a way other teams have been unable to do, is not done with that aspiration.

Burns twice took advantage of Leinster’s line speed, which has been one of the team’s advantages, to lay the groundwork for Ulster’s historic victory in Dublin. The outhalf gave a nearly careless first-half display, positioning himself as the front-runner to succeed Johnny Sexton in the succession race.

Burns acknowledges that his recent form did not deserve a call from Andy Farrell, but at 29, he is not too old. There haven’t been any reasonable expectations fostered by the length of the break from Ireland duty. Nevertheless, he walks with a swagger.

“It does feel like a long time,” he says. “Like, I’m desperate to be back. I loved watching the World Cup.”

Burns confirmed there has been no recent contact from Irish management.

“To be honest with you, it’s my fault that I haven’t deserved a phone call,” he replies.

As a realist, I must admit that I haven’t been playing well enough the past few years, but it’s not for want of effort. I think I’m really beginning to return to where I was, and I think the rugby we’re playing now will be a great fit for me.

He says, “It’s one good game.” That doesn’t mean I’ll be Ireland’s top player in the future. In key games, I have to support it week after week. Again, though, that’s not for me to say; I’ll simply continue working hard and keeping my head down to see what transpires. I apologize for being so dull.

He will have some sympathy for Leinster outhalf Harry Byrne, whose last kick to touch didn’t get there, denying Leinster a final opportunity of an attacking lineout maul to possibly win the match. It happens. Byrne should not beat himself up.

Named in the Ireland squad for the 2021 Six Nations, Burns came on as a replacement in the 21–16 defeat to Wales at the Millennium Stadium. In the dying moments he attempted to kick a penalty to touch, which similarly would have given Ireland an attacking platform to potentially win the match. But the ball was kicked dead, allowing Wales to hold on to win.

“Everyone wants to play at the top level and I feel like I’m a much different player to what I was when I was in the last time,” he says. “I’ve just learned a lot. I went in there and I probably didn’t express myself. I feel like I can

manage the pressure far better than I did on the last occasion.

And that doesn’t even include the blatant errors like the mishit into touch against Wales. Simply put, all over the place. I hate to say it, but all I can do is keep playing well and watch what happens. My experience with Ulster is fantastic. I want to contribute to the effort since we all sincerely believe in the path we’re on and are working to somewhat alter the way we play.

Early in December, following Edinburgh’s third defeat in seven games, Ulster’s head coach Dan McFarland urged his team to improve.

He made his teammates respond after pointing out that their inconsistent training was producing uneven outcomes. Burns spearheading a dismantling of their rivals is the ideal start to the new year, even against a Leinster squad that has altered and is without several of their star players.

This weekend is off before the Champions Cup returns on January 13 when Ulster hosts Toulouse at home.

Leinster, who had switched to Ciaran Frawley at fullback, Tommy O’Brien on one wing, and Rob Russell on the other, learned a valuable lesson from the loss as well. Ulster took note of the altered shape and adjusted their plans.

It wasn’t a coincidence—all of that was planned—and it looks nice when it does. It was the template for us this week. Though things don’t always work out, this time we took a gamble because we saw a tiny hole in the defense “he says.

These players play at such a mental line speed that it was clear what we had to do to beat them. Considering how challenging it is to play against, it seemed like the perfect choice. I’m sure they’ll see that immediately and change it. They are an excellent team that is adaptable.

Ulster will acknowledge it. Burns will definitely bank it, and maybe Andy Farrell will catch on.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button