Tomas O’Leary reckons Irish team mates have slagged Billy Burns for his skewed kick

‘Ruthless slagging is the way lads let each other know they have that support’

Former Ireland international Tomas O’Leary believes that Billy Burns being slagged by his Ireland team mates over his skewed kick against Wales could help to put the past behind him.

The former Munster scrum-half was speaking to the Irish Examiner about how Burns and Peter O’Mahony would look to put the Wales game behind them, warning against the danger of being too nice.

While he noted that each player is different, O’Leary revealed that slagging fellow players over their mistakes is often the way that teams support each other.

“The teams I was part of were very much given to slagging and ball hopping with lads in that scenario.

“If you were overly nice with a fella or skirted around an issue it was almost accentuating the fact that he’d made a mistake. Joking about it illustrated that the lads had your back, and every player’s been there, after all.

“You obviously have to differentiate between people based on their personalities. Some players want to be left alone in that situation and others are happier to get a slagging.

“Generally in a rugby environment that kind of ruthless slagging is the way lads let each other know they have that support. I don’t know Billy Burns, I’ve never met him, but I’d assume he’d be well versed in that environment.”

While a bit of teasing from team mates is unlikely to do any harm, the Cork man believes the same can’t be said for comments made on social media.

O’Leary – ‘Nobody is mentally bulletproof’

Burns was given plenty of support by fellow players and supporters on social media but a lot of criticism was also directed at him.

O’Leary reckons that most players are better off staying away from potentially negative comments on social media leading up to a big game.

“I think it’s common sense for a guy to avoid social media the week of a game unless he’s so strong mentally that it doesn’t affect him.

“With a lot of that stuff the player’s tagged and it’s sent directly to them, so anyone can log on and give the player their opinion of how they played.

“In any walk of life if somebody writes something about you, it’s going to make you think, you’ll evaluate what they’ve said.

“Unfortunately if a fella isn’t mentally bulletproof — and nobody is — then he’ll consider the other person’s opinion. Focusing on negative opinions rather than positive comments is human nature.

“You have to figure it out without letting it consume you, so the best practice would probably be to avoid it the week of a game. If you’ve made a mistake then there’s not a lot of benefit to embracing it head-on.”

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