Dan Leavy sends message to All Blacks, and Joe Schmidt, with latest performance
Suited and booted, Dan Leavy strode into the unused dressing room ready to take questions.
TV and online got Kieran Marmion and Iain Henderson while Will Addison and Dan Leavy were divided between the print media. It was after 10pm at the Aviva Stadium and the team bus was heading back towards Lansdowne Road to pick up the squad and get them back to The Shelbourne.
Leavy was surrounded by a mass of bodies and had phones and dictaphones thrust in his direction. Everyone figures he will start at openside against New Zealand and, such is his confidence, Leavy must believe it too.
He nodded, signalling he was ready to go. First question please.
An hour earlier, Leavy was called over to the touchline for a post-match interview. " Argentina are a big physical team, we really had to dig in," Leavy told Irish Rugby TV after the game.
"We had one or two really important scores in the second half and we played the game in the right areas of the park. It was a very tough battle but we're delighted - it gives us a bit of momentum to take into next week."
Momentum is important and so is the win. For about 55 minutes, Ireland looked sluggish and were struggling to get shot of Argentina. Everything good they did would be negated, soon after, by a turnover, poor lineout, knock-on or silly penalty.
They were gradually wearing Los Pumas down, however. Ireland back their physicality, endurance and their fitness. They can go at teams relentlessly and most teams break. It happened spectacularly to Italy last weekend and Argentina, too, ran out of juice.
James Ryan and Leavy were again to the fore, but the hard carries of CJ Stander, Tadhg Furlong and Jack McGrath must also be noted. Having lost Sean O'Brien to a broken arm, after 38 minutes, Leavy entered the fray.
The Leinster flanker's first contribution of note was to concede an early second half penalty that pipped Argentina in front. After going 17-15 ahead they would score no more. Ireland took a strangle-hold and Leavy was huge in the final 35 minutes.
Eight carries for 30 metres, seven tackles stuck, one impressive choke-tackle turnover and coming so close to a try before Luke McGrath scored from the resulting scrum. He threatened, and made ground, on both the left and right wings and showed lovely handling to keep attacks alive.
Following his side's 28-17 victory, Joe Schmidt commented:
"His competitiveness, and how combative he is, and how keen he is to get involved... I thought he did a really good job.
"He carried down the left wing a couple of times and through the middle a few times. Defensively, he was strong. He got some good pressure on the ball. That's what you want from a 7."
Schmidt then went on to praise Josh van der Flier for his outing against Italy and mentioned Tadhg Beirne as a back row option. Rhys Ruddock can also play openside but Leavy is in the box seat.
"That's a tough decision for us during the week," Schmidt commented, "which is exactly what they want."
Leavy came to Ireland's rescue in February when van der Flier's knee crumpled against France. He did the same, nine months later, when O'Brien suffered another wretched injury.
The decision may not be that tough after all.