Monday 21 May 2018

Reddan would welcome Van der Flier and Ringrose in an Ireland jersey

Leinster's Josh van der Flier. Photo: PA
Leinster's Josh van der Flier. Photo: PA
David Kelly

David Kelly

After a festive season notable for debilitating one's physical and mental state, Eoin Reddan is a picture postcard of blooming health.

Now into his 36th year, the Limerick man was forced to play twice in the space of five days over the holiday period; a workload that some half his age would baulk at.

"Yeah, and I enjoyed them too," chirped the man of the match in last Friday's grim and gritty 13-0 win against Connacht. "I'm still walking fine…"

He may be sitting down as he speaks but no matter; age is just relevant for cheeses and wines and, after completing a Munster/Connacht double (both former employers), it is obvious Reddan's class remains untethered even when though one calendar has supplanted another.

Indeed, with Conor Murray clearly struggling with a hip issue and Isaac Boss literally hamstrung, Reddan is the straight-line favourite to start against the Welsh when Ireland begin their Six Nations title defence in a month's time.

"It's great being in camp and seeing what new faces Joe has gone with," said Reddan.

"Then it'll be good beyond that. It'll be a great few weeks and I'm sure he'll have us working hard again."

Many of the faces were familiar to the 68-times-capped scrum-half - aside from newcomers Ultan Dillane (Connacht) and Stuart McCloskey (Ulster), Reddan is already familiar with the breakthrough qualities demonstrated by Josh van der Flier and Garry Ringrose this term.

"I'm not surprised at all that people are talking about them and they're lucky to have someone like Leo Cullen and Joe Schmidt in charge of them and between those two coaches, they'll manage the situation perfectly," was Reddan's worthy assessment.

"If they're ready, they'll play. And if the coaches feel a longer path is necessary, they'll take that if they have to.

"But if you're asking me if I'd mind ever lining out beside them in any kind of jersey then the answer would have to be no, because I think they're both great players.

"They're excellent, they're great to have around Leinster, too. They are technically really good at their jobs, very good tacklers, very good over the ball.

"They have to be because they're young. When they get their chance they're taking it. They're carrying out details of their jobs to the letter of what they're supposed to do.

"That helps all us older lads to just see their commitment to their role. They're definitely leading the group.

"There's always that pressure, especially in a squad where you might not play again the next week so you have to take your chance. That's why it's good to see it because you can tell a little bit about a guy when he goes out there and does it."

Reddan shows little sign of stopping; he only stepped in at the eleventh hour against Ulster after luckless Luke McGrath's progress was again stalled by foot blisters.

From hard ground to bog, it was no bother to the veteran, a tag which in the modern era seemingly embraces anyone beyond 30, never mind 35.

"If you play a few weeks in a row you get to play in different games and you enjoy them," he explained. "You get pigeon-holed a little bit if you don't get an opportunity to play muddy, tight games like Ulster."

And yet for years, Leinster coaches have subtly enabled such pigeon-holing; Boss for Somme-like trench warfare on French fields; Reddan on the hard ground where running rugby seemed more likely.

Reddan argues what seemed like a deliberate policy was not a policy at all.

"Either of us could probably have played in either type of game," he argues. "It was important for the overall squad mentality that we were building at that stage.

"It was a bit harsh at the time to say either of us couldn't play the opposite type of game and I know Joe certainly felt like that behind closed doors."

A man for all seasons, indeed.

Meanwhile, Fergus McFadden was last night cited for alleged stamping during the game.

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