A SMILE BREAKS out across Scott Penny’s face when he’s asked if there is a try bonus in his Leinster contract. There isn’t, he confirms, but the 21-year-old back row would have amassed a tidy sum by now if there had been.
His excellent form during this campaign has included nine tries in his 11 appearances in the Pro14, meaning he finished the curtailed season as the joint-top try-scorer alongside Alex Wootton and Marcell Coetzee.
Nor has Penny been slagging off some of Leinster’s less prolific backs, explaining that his rush of tries has simply been a matter of right place, right time.
He is selling himself a little short in that sense, for there is a knack in being the one on the end of try-scoring passages on such a regular basis. Leinster work hard on their pick-and-go game, in which Penny has shown himself to be a real weapon.
Across his entire game, the former St Michael’s College student has moved to another level this season, earning himself the Pro14′s ‘Next Gen’ player of the season award as a result.
“This is my third season now, I think I’m just getting used to the physicality,” said Penny this week.
“Maybe when I first came onto the scene I was a bit too young, coming straight in from school, but I feel pretty comfortable now. My fitness is getting there, I’m comfortable with the physicality of the professional game.”
Penny recently had to deal with the frustration of a hand injury, meaning he missed the Pro14 final against Munster as well as the Champions Cup quarter-final victory over Exeter.
He doesn’t remember the incident that broke his hand in the clash with the Ospreys last month, managing to play on through it in that game, and counts himself a little fortunate that it didn’t require any surgery.
Now rested and recovered, Penny is set for his return against Munster on Saturday at the RDS as the Rainbow Cup kicks off.
Penny scored nine tries in the Pro14. Source: James Crombie/INPHO
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While many outsiders felt Penny might be a transfer target for one of the other provinces this summer, he decided to extend his Leinster contract beyond the end of this season.
“It was a pretty easy decision for me, I love playing here,” said Penny. “I supported Leinster all my life, it’s great to play for the province you supported growing up.
“I’m only 21. I know there’s a lot of good back rows in Leinster, especially in the openside flanker position, but I back my ability and getting these big games under my belt will be a good process for me to get ahead of the other flankers.”
Penny is focused on becoming a more complete player. He enjoyed a couple of starts at number eight in recent months, but the number seven shirt is the one he wants most.
Seán O’Brien, who is now with London Irish, was always a role model for the young flanker.