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Dancing with The Stars’ Shane Byrne will dedicate dance to late pal Anthony Foley

Shane dedicates his dance to his sports pal Foley

Shane Byrne will be dancing with his pro partner Karen in memory of his great friend Anthony Foley

Anthony Foley© SPORTSFILE

Daragh KeanySunday World

Dancing With The Stars showman Shane Byrne will fight back the tears tonight as he takes to the dance floor in honour of his late friend and former teammate Anthony Foley.

For tonight’s special edition Dedication Week the rugby star will perform a Viennese Waltz to the Queen classic We Are The Champions, six and a half years after the sudden death of his close pal Foley.

“I’m not an emotional man but I think this will properly test me,” the 51-year-old star revealed exclusively to the Sunday World last night.

“Anthony’s wife and kids are due to come along too so if I catch their eye I will be a mess.

“It is a very strange week. We are nearly halfway through and I am getting really into it but then dedication week hits you and you all of a sudden have to dance for Anthony and his family, as well as for me.

Anthony Foley© SPORTSFILE

“I want to do him proud. So much. I think he would have a few gruff remarks to make if he was still alive. Off the pitch, he was a man of few words but when he spoke you listened. He never minced his words,” the hooked revealed with a laugh.

“He had way more success than me on the pitch. He was there for longer and achieved so much more. We didn’t become real friends until after we retired; and we found ourselves on the Classic tour.

“It got to the stage where we were texting every day. His death was so tragic as it was completely out of the blue. He is the first of that generation of rugby players to die so his death hit home all over the world.”

One thing not hanging over Byrne is the potential to be voted off as show bosses have decided that no one will be going home this evening. Instead, whoever receives the highest tally after judges scores and viewer votes will get an exemption next week.

“Everyone seems to think that because we can’t get voted off that we will be taking it easy this week. But I guarantee you no one is taking dedication week easy.

“I’ve shown Karen [Byrne] a few videos of Anthony and she understands why he is so important to me. I am very lucky that I haven’t had too much heartache in my life but to be honest, Anthony was an easy choice. And now that I know Olive and the kids are coming it is extra special and definitely the right choice. Other celebs have gone for grandparents and that kind of thing, which is lovely.

“But Anthony represents the first big loss in my life, and I am thrilled to honour him. I just hope I don’t mess it up.”

Last week, fans were shocked to see Dublin GAA star Paul Brogan heading home after topping the leader board the previous week.

The All-Ireland winner followed Derry Girls star Leah O’Rourke and former State Pathologist Dr Marie Cassidy, who were already eliminated.

“I am not going to lie,” Shane continued. “The adrenaline buzz I get from this show completely caught me on the hop.

“I hadn’t experienced that since my playing days. Karen told me to expect it, but I wasn’t ready for it.

“That’s the only comparison because in rugby there were 15 of us on the pitch. And I was supposedly good at that. Here I am on my own trying to stay on my feet and not ruin all Karen’s hard work.

“I am really enjoying it and don’t want it to end.”

  • Tune in for an emotionally charged Dancing with the Stars tonight on RTE One at 6.30pm.

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