Tuesday 21 January 2020

Des Berry: 'Five Leinster young guns who could benefit from loan moves to other provinces'

Leinster's Ciaran Frawley
Leinster's Ciaran Frawley

Des Berry

Leinster's winning culture will keep the next batch of Pro14 League breakthroughs ticking over until they are ready to be hatched in the Champions Cup.

Europe is almost upon us again with Lyon coming to Dublin for round five on Sunday, just before Munster look to derail Racing 92 in Paris.

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Connacht will roll out the green carpet for Toulouse in Galway on Saturday, just after Ulster conclude business matters at Clermont-Auvergne.

As Leinster look to hammer home their top-seed status in Pool 1, Ulster, Munster and Connacht will do what they can to advance their cases.

In reality, the other three provinces could do with bolstering their resources with a little help from their friends in Blue.

It is interesting to note the number of talented players looking on from the stands in The RDS when the BT Sport cameras inevitably cut to the club entourage on Champions Cup day.

These are five men who could well benefit from a loan deal to further advertise their credentials.

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Ciarán Frawley pictured scoring a try for Leinster. Photo: Sportsfile

1. CIARAN FRAWLEY

Age: 22. Caps: 20 caps, 6 starts.

The Skerries man is playing catch-up in a sense as his Age Grade experience lags quite a way behind the Byrnes, Ross and even Harry.

Unlike those two, Frawley has not always been viewed as a specialist out-half, often playing inside centre.

Just last week, Leinster backs coach Felipe Contepomi referred to his “unbelievable” athleticism.

There is a fair argument to be made that Connacht could do with Frawley's particular set of skills as Conor Fitzgerald has just been laid low by an ankle injury and Jack Carty is struggling for form and fitness.

Where to? Connacht.

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Point to prove: Rob Kearney leading the way from Tommy O’Brien (left) at Leinster training this week. Photo: Sportsfile

2. TOMMY O'BRIEN

Age: 21. Caps: 2, 1 start.

The exciting, versatile three-quarter is comfortable anywhere from inside centre along the line to wing as one who gives every ounce to the cause.

He has been hampered badly by shoulder and hamstring issues since entering the Academy out of Blackrock School where he was a twelve.

It was noteworthy that Cullen handed O'Brien his first start against Ulster before Christmas rather than ship him out to Dragons or Zebre.

A loan move would make a lot of sense as O'Brien has had little or no opportunity to show his value well halfway through his final year in the Academy.

Where to? Ulster.

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26 October 2019; Ryan Baird of Leinster during the Guinness PRO14 Round 4 match between Zebre and Leinster at the Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi in Parma, Italy. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

3. RYAN BAIRD

Age: 20. Caps: 4, 1 start.

The comparisons to James Ryan are understandable for reasons other than they play the same position and attended St Michael's College.

There is no better athlete at Leinster, including Ryan, than the dynamic, quick-moving lock with a debate over whether he will eventually settle in the second row or at blindside flanker.

His development has been slower than expected due to the curse of injuries, starting for the first time against Dragons in November.

Really, all anyone has to do to see his talent is visit youtube for a recap of Ireland's U20 loss to New Zealand at theWorld Cup last summer, Baird showing his speed, footwork and handling for an incredible try.

Where to? Ulster.

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Hugh O'Sullivan

4. HUGH O'SULLIVAN

Age: 21. Caps: 20, 2 starts.

The Meath man cannot be satisfied with the way the season has gone, so far, making half-a-dozen appearances from the bench, not one start.

O'Sullivan was able to gather 14 caps in his first season and would have had plans to kick-on, close the rather large gap to Luke McGrath and Jamison Gibson-Park.

Instead, Rowan Osborne was plucked from the All-Ireland League and awarded the start over him against Munster at Thomond Park.

Connacht coach Andy Friend alluded to the fact that Caolin Blade has not had a rest all season due to Kieran Marmion's injury.

Where to? Connacht.

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Charlie Ryan. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

5 CHARLIE RYAN

Age: 20. Caps: 0.

The 6'7” second row went to the U20 World Cup as Noel McNamara's captain.

Those leadership skills are always a positive for the gruelling work that has to be done in the trenches.

The list of locks at Leinster is not going to shorten any time soon and there is a lot to be said for throwing Ryan in at the deep end for the second-half of the season.

He is making his way back to fitness and should be ready to go at the end of this month at a time when second row is a position of need for the Western Province.

Where to? Connacht.

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