Belfast Telegraph

Deegan's sights are set on Euro crack at Ulster

 

By Cian Tracey

A quick scan through the previous winners of the World Rugby Junior Player of the Year award will tell you that Max Deegan is certainly in some illustrious company.

Past recipients of the prestigious gong include the likes of Aaron Cruden, Julian Savea, Jan Serfontein, Handre Pollard and, most recently, Jordan Joseph, who is a superstar in the making.

It's three years since Deegan's outstanding performances inspired the Ireland Under-20s to the World Cup final, but his career in the time since hasn't fully ignited in the manner many expected.

Having played 18 times (10 starts) last season for Leinster, Deegan is well on his way to surpassing that total this term as he has already played 17 games, including nine starts.

As soon as he came into the Leinster set-up, the former St Michael's student was already being talked about as an exciting prospect, and when he was crowned Player of the Year, that expectation heightened - even if Deegan didn't feel as if it did.

"(Coach) Leo (Cullen) dealt with us younger lads as he would with any younger lads, build you through training first, so I didn't feel anything, no," he insists.

Having mainly been playing No.8, Deegan has found himself across the back-row this season.

Deegan will get a chance to stake his claim for next week's big quarter-final against Ulster in Dublin when Leinster travel to Edinburgh tomorrow.

"I want to be able to step in and give a performance good enough of making an impact in a Champions Cup game," he adds. "I want to know I can give a good enough performance to be in there with the guys playing with Ireland."

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