Stuart Lancaster claims that Ross Byrne has a shot at making Ireland's World Cup squad after his crucial late cameo against Australia.
Byrne came off the bench to kick Ireland's winning penalty, his first involvement at Test level in 18 months and after falling down the out-half pecking order under Andy Farrell.
"As soon as he put the ball down I was absolutely confident that he would kick it," argued Lancaster, Leinster's senior coach, who was at Ireland's clash with the Wallabies.
"I had no doubt. Hopefully it leads to more opportunities for him."
Lancaster is a massive fan of the 27-year-old but while Leinster have placed huge trust in Byrne as the man to guide the team when Johnny Sexton isn't playing, that faith has not been replicated at Test level.
He was handed a start in the warm-up game against England before the last World Cup. It went badly, and another start against high profile opposition - against France in last year's Six Nations - also did Byrne no favours.
"They obviously got smashed at Twickenham but how things have changed since then for Ireland," said Lancaster.
"And for Ross himself. His consistency for Leinster, it can’t be questioned."
Parachuted onto the bench after Sexton suffered a calf problem in the warm-up against Australia, Byrne came on for only his 14th cap - the last since coming on in the win against England in March 2021.
“He does everything really well," Lancaster continued.
"He makes the team tick, his core skills are very good - his passing, catching off both hands, his understanding of the game is excellent.
"He’s not a young player, he’s played for us in many big games. I’ve coached him now for seven years and he knows what I’m going to say before I even say it.
"We know each other that well, there are times when I’m thinking things in the box and he’s doing them on the field at the same time I’m thinking it.
"We’d be vary aligned in terms of how we see the game.
"He’s learned a huge amount from Johnny and so he’s had a great role model to follow - and he’s always had great people pushing him from behind, whether it's Ciarán (Frawley) or Harry (Byrne, his brother) or Joey (Carbery) when he was here."
Lancaster compares Byrne to Luke McGrath in how they have dealt with their exile from the Test game.
"Both put their disappointment behind them very quickly," said the former England boss.
"What they do is commit totally to Leinster, they absolutely love the club. They’re happy to play with the youngest lads, the European games, it doesn’t matter of them - they genuinely enjoy playing rugby and the environment.
"That mindset allows you to drop the other stuff - that’s when you actually play your best. And then the other stuff comes back, that's when the opportunities come.
"You’re playing without the baggage of 'what if'. They’re invaluable to Leinster."
Byrne has serious work to do to convince Farrell he is worthy of making the cut for France 2023.
Lancaster believes he can do it.
"He’s certainly experienced and played in all the big games," he said, speculating that Farrell will bring two specialist no 10s and a versatile back who can play at out-half as cover, just as Lancaster himself did with Alex Goode's selection in 2015.
"I’d imagine Andy will probably go with something similar.
"There's someone like Ciarán who can play 10 and 12, Joey who can play 10 and 15, Ross can be an out and out 10 but can play 12, Johnny can play 12 but Johnny would probably stay at 10.
"You need a bit of versatility in your squad. Jack Crowley can play 10 and 15, can’t he?
"That versatility is going to be important because you saw how attritional and tough some of the games were in November. The South Africa game was so physical.
"It’s going to be competitive."
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