Friday 18 August 2017

US sorted with ease so now it's all about Tokyo for Joe

Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Brendan Fanning

Brendan Fanning

There is a lot to be said for having decent depth in your Guinness PRO12 squad when the Six Nations is hogging the headlines.

The match points are the same but the opportunities to take full value are far greater.

Similarly, on this Ireland tour the Lions demands have opened the door to a clatter of kids. And the records show their caps are noted in the same column as a World Cup. They're off and running.

Five of them came home in credit in New Jersey: the three under-20s from last summer - Jacob Stockdale, James Ryan and Andrew Porter - along with Rory Scannell and Dave Heffernan.

Given Ryan's phenomenal rise to this level, capped off with a try inside a minute of coming on, he was the lead item.

"We just wanted him to get away, to learn from the experienced players we do have - which aren't too many - but at the same time we felt he'd measure up," Joe Schmidt said. "And he measured up today.

"We'll keep working through.

"Kieran Treadwell is 21 years old, and it's a fast track for him too. He's been working incredibly hard and hopefully those two start to apply some pressure on the more experienced lads."

That's an indication that the Ulster second-row might get Ryan's spot on the bench in one of the Japan Tests which will be more stressful for the tourists than the run-out in New Jersey.

Paddy Jackson's arrival will strengthen Schmidt's hand after a game where three players - Joey Carbery, Garry Ringrose and Rory Scannell - got tee time. So there won't be any need to call up a sharp-shooter if Carbery's ankle injury is worse than feared.

"No, I don't think so," Schmidt said. "I thought Rory struck his first one not too bad - it went straight at the pole, which was unfortunate, but the next two were super kicks.

"Garry Ringrose: the kid can do a lot of things. Kicking is another one. And Paddy Jackson can kick. We've got a few options - John Cooney can kick and he's cover as well at 10 for us.

Tiernan O'Halloran, with cramp, was the only other player to be replaced through injury. The squad arrive in Japan tonight.

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