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Ryan and Retallick on course for duel

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POWERING THROUGH: James Ryan overcame a difficult start to turn in a Man of the Match performance on Saturday. Pic: Sportsfile

POWERING THROUGH: James Ryan overcame a difficult start to turn in a Man of the Match performance on Saturday. Pic: Sportsfile

POWERING THROUGH: James Ryan overcame a difficult start to turn in a Man of the Match performance on Saturday. Pic: Sportsfile

Brodie Retallick has been held up as not just the best second row in the world, but the best player.

When the rain came slanting down at Twickenham, Beauden Barrett moved to the periphery and captain Kieran Read was held in check.

It was the 2014 World Player of the Year who rose to the occasion, to snatch three line-out throws out of the paws of Maro Itoje in a magnificent Man of the Match performance that was the difference between victory and defeat.

Three hours later, James Ryan, Ireland's answer to Retallick, walked into the belly of the Aviva for a half-time break from what was probably the highest number of mistakes he had made in any jersey, blue or green.

There had been a ball ripped out of his hands, line-outs lost and a ball spilled at a maul.

The Man of the Match accolade that Ryan rescued from there came about from the mental and physical force to grind away, making the second highest number of tackles (13) and carries (18), both behind CJ Stander, for Ireland.

It wasn't just the numbers, it was the influence of the sort of contributions that cause others to follow.

"Yeah, I thought he was massive in the second half," reacted coach Joe Schmidt.

"How he carried through some of that traffic, I'm not sure.

"How he carried and then he carried and he carried again.

"He's a super young kid and I think he's pretty sore now," said Schmidt.

"He certainly got through a volume of contact that will earn him a couple of days to recover and then build again toward the All Blacks."

The Irishman is not the best in his position in the game.

But the 22-year-old will be given the chance to go up against Retallick, just 27, to see how far he has to go to get there.


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