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Ryan's bright future: Captain calls for Ireland to be much more clinical



LEAD ROLE: James Ryan will captain Ireland again against Georgia. Photo: Matt Impey/Sportsfile

LEAD ROLE: James Ryan will captain Ireland again against Georgia. Photo: Matt Impey/Sportsfile

LEAD ROLE: James Ryan will captain Ireland again against Georgia. Photo: Matt Impey/Sportsfile

James Ryan will hand the captaincy back to Johnny Sexton if his Leinster colleague is fit and available to start in the final Autumn Nations Cup game next week.

But for now, the 24-year-old is busy putting things right after leading Andy Farrell's team to an 18-7 defeat against England last weekend.

In particular, he's been honing in on the lineout which went badly wrong on Saturday.

Farrell is likely to make changes for the game against Georgia on Sunday, but Ryan will lead the side.

And, while he wants the team to learn their lessons, he also said the public need to be patient with a team that is on a new cycle under the former England international.

"Hopefully Johnny will be back next week and he'll be back leading the side," he said of the captaincy. "It's something I've enjoyed, but he's team captain.

"It was a relatively inexperienced side compared to those guys who'd been together for 10 years and I was proud of the lads.

"I thought we really fronted up defensively, guys like Caelan Doris really stood up.

"We didn't finish those opportunities that we (got). I thought we kept slamming the door, working really hard for each other and we'll take massive confidence from that physicality the lads showed.

"The next layer of that is about being a bit smarter."

Ryan is being earmarked as a future captain and enjoyed the experience.

"The week was probably slightly different," he said.

"Early in the week, I just tried to focus on my own game. Once the game started, I kind of forgot I was captain, to be honest. Apart from dealing with the ref, I was just doing my own game.

"As for how the game went, I'm proud of the lads in many respects. I think we fronted up massively, I think we defended really well at times but we just weren't clinical enough. We're getting opportunities from creating pressure but we just need to nail those moments.

"At this level, if you've got four big moments and four big opportunities, you've got to take three of them anyway. We're trying to find that clinical edge so it was a bit of a mixed bag for us.

"When we're a bit calmer at times we get into their 22, when we've got a bit more calmness about us, we're able to see pictures and play to the space as opposed to trying to run over them or run into them all the time.

"They put pressure on us but for us as well, it's just making sure that we find that calmness in those moments."

The England defeat has led to plenty of soul-searching outside of the Ireland camp, but Ryan reiterated his belief that the team are not far off the Six Nations champions.

"I don't know in terms of percentage but if you stand back and look at the game ... As I was saying earlier, for the first try Owen Farrell went to the edge with that kick I thought because the lads were defending so well through the middle," he said.

"If you look at their other scores, Jonny May's try, he does unbelievably well to finish but kind of on the back of our own mistakes, after a big opportunity for us to score. Six points from stupid penalties, one of which was from myself.

"So if you look at where they're getting their scores from ... I don't think we're very far from being able to go toe-to-toe with the world's top couple of teams.

"If we're a bit more accurate and are not giving them that access into the game, I think these games will be very close."