Ross Byrne joins Ireland squad; Josh Cullen named Player of the Year

The Morning Sports Briefing: Keep ahead of the game with ‘The Irish Times’ sports team

Ross Byrne has been added to the Ireland squad as outhalf cover with Johnny Sexton still an injury doubt for Australia on Saturday and Joey Carbery ruled out. Former Australian Under-20 player, and now Irish winger, Mack Hansen says he’s treating the upcoming Australia reunion like any other Test match. In his weekly column, Gordon D’Arcy explains why personal lessons from the 2003 World Cup suggests more game time for fringe players on the Ireland squad will be hard to come by following the Fiji game: “As an Irish player if you are outside the first choice 23, matches like the Fiji game are like hen’s teeth. You must stand up, stand out.”

Josh Cullen has been named the FAI’s senior international men’s player of the year. Katie McCabe has won the women’s accolade, while Gavin Bazunu picked up the young player of the year award. Cullen is targeting further success with club and country after notching the award: “I think the day you stop trying to get better and improving as a player is the day your career is probably coming to an end and for me that is obviously a long way away and I’ll keep trying to improve every day.”

Novak Djokovic will be given a visa by the Australian government, allowing him to play the 2023 Australian Open. On the eve of the 2022 open the then coalition government revoked Djokovic’s visa on the grounds a recent Covid diagnosis did not justify an exemption to Australia’s requirement for visitors to be vaccinated. Rafa Nadal was eliminated from the ATP finals after Casper Ruud took the first set off American Taylor Fritz in their round-robin match in Turin yesterday, which also guaranteed that the 19 year-old Carlos Alcaraz would end the year as world number one.

Meanwhile, in his column this morning Sean Moran explains why the GAA is approaching crisis point on reputational damage, following the violent scenes in the Leinster intermediate club hurling quarter-final between Naomh Barróg and Oulart The Ballagh on Saturday: “You get the sense that GAA officialdom is frustrated and weary with the constant flow of shakily captured delinquency that pops up on social media and the zero-to-60 speeds at which that becomes national media. Obscurity no longer filters out reputational damage.”