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Burns looking to build on Ireland debut

Burns looking to build on Ireland debut

Burns looking to build on Ireland debut

Having had a small taste of international rugby, Ireland fly-half Billy Burns is now keen for more as he looks to cement his place in the squad.

Burns was thrust into action, perhaps even sooner than he was anticipating, as he emerged from the bench just before the half-hour mark of the Autumn Nations Cup-opening victory over Wales when Johnny Sexton went off with a hamstring injury.

The Ulster No.10 had been in camp with Ireland before but this was his first time in a matchday 23 and claims he was relaxed about making his debut, until some messages came through from certain family members.

“I’ve got three older brothers and we’re all very tight,” explained Burns. “There were messages before the game.

“I was pretty calm going into the game, but every time I got a message from one of them it was the thing that probably made me most nervous.

“You don’t want to let any of those guys down. There was some great support, they sent me some nice videos before the game.

“It was a hugely proud moment for not just myself, but my family and all the people who’ve helped me along the way to get to this stage.”

The 26-year-old ably stepped into the breach at No.10, slotting two penalties to keep Ireland on track for a 32-9 victory, and admits he will never forget the experience.

“It was incredible. It was a strange old week. Obviously being late coming into the squad, there was a lot of stuff to learn. A lot of time with my head in the notebook,” he added.

“I had been in camp before and the calls have all stayed pretty similar, but just refreshing my mind. It’s not the circumstances you want to go on with Johnny obviously pulling up with an injury, but it was probably the best thing for me.

“It just chucked me out there in the deep end before I knew. I was sort of going into the game expecting if I got 20 minutes I’d be over the moon. To get on at 30 minutes was huge.

“I loved every minute of it. It was a really enjoyable experience. The boys made it easy for me to come in and sort of just fit in.”

Burns’ game came to a premature end when he exited with a head injury in the final 15 minutes but if he is declared fit to face England in a potentially decisive Autumn Nations Cup game at Twickenham this weekend, he would jump at the chance to add another cap to his tally.

“I think now it’s just about taking that next step. I’ve had a little taste of it and hopefully I can improve going forward and get more opportunities,” he said.

“If I can tick all the boxes in the return-to-play protocols, which I’m trucking along well with at the moment, then hopefully I’m in the conversation for sure.

“If I get that opportunity, whether it be starting or off the bench, it will be great to get to put on the shirt again. Hopefully contribute to the team getting a big win over in Twickenham, which is one of the toughest places to go.”

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