Tuesday 23 October 2018

Schmidt: Ryan's no Itoje but he is the future

Leinster's James Ryan. Photo: Sportsfile
Leinster's James Ryan. Photo: Sportsfile

Rúaidhrí O'Connor

The future is here.

Joe Schmidt has been tracking James Ryan since he first saw him play for Leinster's U-16s and has decided that now is the time to unleash the now 21-year-old from the start of a big international against Argentina tomorrow.

The young man who led Ireland to the U-20 World Cup final in 2016 draws immediate comparison to England and the Lions' Maro Itoje, but his head coach sees him as a different kind of player.

But he believes that the Leinster young gun, who has started only three matches for his province, can become a key player.

"I am not sure they would have the same athletic profile," he said. "I think the fact Maro Itoje plays No 6 a lot, for us James is a pure second-row... James is a little bit taller than Maro Itoje so that lineout extension is something that is important to us.

Contributor "James is just a kid really, so he will fill out and I think he is going to be a big engine-room contributor for us in the future, at least that is what we are hoping will be the case.

"It is hard to predict someone's future but with the work ethic, intelligence, physique and commitment that he does have, it is a very good starting platform that he has. I first saw him play for Leinster U-16s, so that is a fair way back.

"It was probably his athleticism and physicality for a lean kid (that stood out), playing a year ahead of himself... other kids were 16, he was 15, he did a couple of years at U-18 level.

"For engine-room guys, that's a pretty good effort, a pretty good platform to base your potential upon."

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