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Why Harry Byrne needs to play at least one test against New Zealand | Brian O'Driscoll

All three of Ireland's flyhalves on tour to New Zealand should play in a test match each, according to Ireland legend Brian O'Driscoll.



All three of Ireland's flyhalves on tour to New Zealand should play in a test match each, according to Ireland legend Brian O'Driscoll.

Andy Farrell named his 40-man side for the tour of New Zealand this week. In it, he named Johnny Sexton, Joey Carbery and Harry Byrne as the flyhalves, with the uncapped Ciaran Frawley being a fourth option at outhalf, in spite of being named as a centre.

While Sexton will likely get the majority of game time in the crucial stages of the tour, now is also vital for the next men up to be tested ahead of the 2023 Rugby World Cup.

However, just 15 months out of the start of the tournament in France, Harry Byrne has only been capped twice.

Harry Byrne 'has the highest ceiling'

Speaking on Wednesday Night Rugby, O'Driscoll explained why he believes the younger of Leinster's Byrnes was selected for the tour.

"Trying to gauge what they are thinking, I think they feel he has the highest ceiling," O’Driscoll said. "He's got the most capabilities, even though we haven't seen it yet.

"When he broke onto the scene a couple of years ago, I for one thought he was heir to the throne. I've ultimately, like everyone else, been frustrated and disappointed that he hasn't been able to deliver when it's been asked of him.

"He is a guy that tries the miracle ball when he comes on rather than playing his way into the game. He just needs to understand what the requirements are as an international 10.

"You can d0 one thing against Dragons at home, but it's very different against New Zealand away."

Byrne has been involved in the same squads as Irish captain Sexton for his entire professional career at Leinster. The 23-year-old would therefore have had a unique opportunity to learn from a true great of the Irish and international game.

O'Driscoll believes that, if Byrne is to become a success at international level, he needs to overanalyse Sexton's game at a microscopic level.

"I am sure he has learnt a huge amount from Johnny Sexton over the last while," O'Driscoll said. "He should be microscopically going through Johnny's game and understanding what is his major point of difference.

"How [Sexton] sees the game and his decision making."

All three flyhalves need a test match

The current gap between Sexton and the other outhalves in Ireland is noticeable. However, O'Driscoll believes that the only way to ensure that the gap is closed is to test each flyhalf at the highest level.

This is why he believes that all three of them need to play in at least one test against the All Blacks this year.

"You'd have to imagine that all three of them have to get a test match," O'Driscoll said. "Are you bringing Harry Byrne down there just to play in the Māori games if you feel as though he may be involved in the World Cup?

"It is a nervous time at 10. It really is. This isn't going away, and Johnny knows it himself."

Andy Farrell's side get their first tour in three years underway on Wednesday June 29th with a tour match agains the Māori All Blacks.

The then play three tests against New Zealand on July 2nd, 9th and 16th respectively before returning home.

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All Blacks Andy Farrell Brian O'Driscoll Chris Jones Cian Healy Connacht Conor O'Shea Eddie Jones England France Full Match Harry Byrne Ireland James Lowe Joey Carbery Johnny Sexton Leinster Mack Hansen Maori Maori All Blacks Munster New Zealand New Zealand Tour Off The Ball Otb Otb Sports Otbam Peter O'Mahony Press Conference Robert Baloucoune Ronan Kelleher Rugby Rugby Ball Rugby World Cup Six Nations Tour Tries Twickenham Ulster

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