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Debut so special but I just want to learn as much as possible, says Byrne

 

By Jonathan Bradley

While it was opposite wing Jacob Stockdale who bagged two tries against Argentina, Adam Byrne wore the widest smile.

The Leinsterman was making his Ireland debut against the Pumas and admitted he has yet to have the time to reflect on the achievement.

"It was amazing but it hasn't really sunk in yet," he said.

"From finding out on the Tuesday, that was incredible, and then getting over that, Wednesday was a day off and the team was announced on Thursday and I think my phone has been hopping (ever since) with some really nice messages.

"I just needed to stay focused on the game, it's been incredible, and I can't wait to really reflect on it."

Having dreamed of the moment for so long, the 23-year-old found himself battling his emotions in the minutes immediately before kick-off.

"You know, it was extremely emotional. I tried to tell myself I wouldn't, I tried to not let the emotions get to me but it's been something I've looked at since I was a little kid and it is hard to keep them under control when the anthem's playing.

"It was a special moment.

"Last week, I was a reserve and, even the whole experience, doing the warm-up, was incredible.

"I was kind of thinking this is where I want to be.

"It was incredible to get the nod (for Argentina).

"For me, I just wanted to learn as much as possible coming into a new environment with a great coaching staff and the best players in Ireland.

"I was just trying to learn as much as possible."

As a youngster at Leinster, Byrne was handed his senior debut by Joe Schmidt, with things coming full circle on Saturday when the same man picked him for the national side. "That was obviously a special moment as well," he said of being told by the Kiwi coach that he would be a starter.

"He moved on to Ireland and I had to keep my head down at Leinster.

"He has been in touch when he has needed to, maybe last summer, to chat through a few things to me. I tried to take them on board. He has been great that way. (Afterwards) we just shook hands and we had a few words.

"He's been great. It's been a massive learning curve coming into a new environment. I've tried to take as much board as I can.

"He's been extremely helpful. But, the thing I like most is that he is treating me like anyone else.

"He is expecting me to know my detail. I try to take as much on board and try not to mess up."

Heading back to the RDS and Leinster, Byrne knows that little will have changed due to his new-found international status.

Since he has been away, the highly touted Kiwi James Lowe has finally arrived in Dublin and seems set to play against Treviso next week, while Barry Daly was a player cited by Schmidt as one to keep an eye on.

Add in the likes of experienced campaigners such as Isa Nacewa and Dave Kearney, and Byrne knows he will have a battle on just to earn his place in Leo Cullen's line-up.

"I know it is a cliché - I take every game as it comes - but, it really is the case," he said.

"You go back to Leinster and there's a lot of competition there in pretty much every position.

"I will go back and try to take what I've learned here with me.

"Hopefully, I will keep growing as a player. I still feel I have a lot more to show.

"I'm looking forward to going back to Leinster and, hopefully, we can go a couple of steps further than last season."

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