Delighted Cullen tips 'brilliant' O'Loughlin for Ireland honours
Leo Cullen could hardly do with the headache of another Ireland call-up, but his Academy stars must be forcing their way into Joe Schmidt's thoughts with each passing week.
Rory O'Loughlin was the latest colt to grab the headlines in Saturday's win over Ulster as the Old Belvedere youngster bagged a brace of tries, the first of which came out of the Brian O'Driscoll school of finishing.
The 22-year-old only made his senior debut this season, but the RDS clash was his 11th appearance of the season and brought with it his third and fourth tries.
He has trained with Ireland in the past and, while it's understood he wasn't called into today's one-day pre-Six Nations camp, Cullen agreed that further honours are not far away for the youngster.
"Definitely. Rory's gone really, really well, obviously he played on the wing today, he played on the wing in the Aviva earlier on in the year also," he said. "He's carried on the momentum, he came in for pre-season and trained really, really well in that pre-season window, he performed well in the pre-season games and took his chance, the window was there for all the players and we used a lot of players in pre-season, minus a lot of international players.
"So we used a hell of a lot of players and the window is there for guys. He's one who just took his chance and he's gone from strength to strength, and I'm delighted to see him score twice.
"The try he scored in the first half, it's an outstanding individual effort. He's working hard and it's great to see."
Ireland flanker Josh van der Flier, himself the breakout star of 2016, has been impressed with his former academy colleague.
"He's a brilliant player. He works so hard. He's very, very humble," he said. "He's not the type of person who will get carried away with himself at all. He's one of the nicest guys in the changing-room as well.
"Everyone is just delighted for him. He's the type of player everyone wants to do well because he works really hard. He deserves what he gets.
"He was injured for a good bit duringhis time in the academy - I don't know if you get through a full season in the academy without being injured. He was unfortunate in that way. He has had a run of games now and he's doing brilliantly and everyone is delighted for him.
"To make a line-break and then go one-on-one with one of the best back-three (Andrew Trimble) in Ireland was a very good finish from him."