Playing in front of an empty Aviva Stadium was a new experience for both teams last weekend but, for Ed Byrne, the players quickly put that out of mind.

The prop was a 56th-minute replacement in the 27-25 win over Munster Rugby last weekend and confesses to finding the environment strange prior to kick-off.

“When we came out onto the pitch and had the minute’s silence and stuff, then sat back on to the bench, that was the one time it really hit because you’re talking about an interpro game at the Aviva and usually you can’t hear yourself think at that stage,” he explains.

“That was definitely when it dawned on me, sitting near Seán Cronin, the two of us were like ‘my god, this is definitely a new experience’ but once we got into the game, it was fine, because when I came on, we were defending a five-yard lineout.

“I wasn’t worried too much about what was happening around me other than trying not to let them score so I was straight into the thick of it then.”

Byrne also spoke about how critical it is for the team to create their own atmosphere this weekend and in future games behind closed doors.

Starting as a replacement against Munster, he noted the importance of being the voice of the crowd for those on the pitch.

“Especially trying to celebrate the good moments as well to give the players energy. We knew how tough it was going to be the first game back and creating that energy ourselves.

“We spoke about it during the week that it is going to be different with no crowd there and especially in those big Aviva games, they’re incredible. We just want to make sure that we weren’t lacking energy because they weren’t there and there was a bit of an onus on the bench to try and give the players on the pitch a lift.”

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