Alan Quinlan backs "exciting prospect" Ross Byrne to shine against Northampton

Alan Quinlan and Oisin Langan are looking ahead to a busy weekend in the Champions Cup

Devin Toner

Image: ©INPHO/Billy Stickland

Leinster welcome Northampton to the Aviva Stadium on Saturday afternoon braced for an onslaught, after beating the English Premiership side in their own backyard last week.

Leo Cullen knows he will have to plan without young Joey Carbery who was scheduled to see a specialist after injuring his ankle. The injury means Ross Byrne now has the chance to step up in his absence.

Speaking on Newstalk's Facebook Live, Breakfast presenter Alan Quinlan backed Byrne to step into the role and to be aided by more experienced players in the squad.

"The problem is fly-half," he explained. "Ross Byrne is a very good footballer but this is going to be a step up on what he's experienced before. It's a shame about Joey Carbery but I think there's enough experience now with Henshaw beside him and Ringrose outside to help Byrne.

"He's is a tough, physical guy. It's an exciting prospect to see how he does. It's a big ask and they'll try to put a lot of pressure on him... I don't expect Leinster to be as dominant because Northampton are going to throw everything at it, but I still expect them to win."

He added: "I think Leinster are too good. Seven of the forwards are involved in the Irish set-up throughout a really successful November. They're match fit, they're playing really well and they're full of confidence."

Quinlan also addressed Dylan Hartley's six week ban for his strike on Sean O'Brien and insisted that "enough is enough" when it comes to these incidents from the England captain. Hartley has accrued 60 weeks in bans over the course of his professional career.

"You have to take this a couple of ways. The actual incident itself was about right. It was a 'mid-range' offence, so that's four to 10 weeks. I thought it would have been closer to the 10 weeks and then reduced by maybe a week or two.

"I think it was two weeks too short for me. I think it's a bit convenient that it's up right before they play France in the Six Nations. I don't want to lambaste the guy, but enough is enough at this stage.

"There have been too many incidents. It's the same in life, if you've previous convictions and you're up in court, enough is enough. If the judge is sitting there and seeing the same thing happening over and over again, he's going to send you away to jail.

"Nobody wants that situation where his livelihood is taken away, but he's just got to stop."