'I like everything about him' - Luke Fitzgerald says top Leinster prospect will be 'very hard to hold on to'
Luke Fitzgerald has backed Leinster youngster Ciaran Frawley to be a 'top quality player' and thinks the province could struggle to keep him at the club going foward.
The 21-year-old out-half is only in his second year of professional rugby, making 11 appearances for Leinster this season. However, just four of those were starts and with Johnny Sexton and Ross Byrne ahead of him in the pecking order, opportunities are likely to be limited at the RDS in the near future.
Last summer saw Joey Carbery leave Leinster to join Munster in order to get more game-time at out-half, and Luke Fitzgerald thinks that Frawley might have to make a similar decision over the coming seasons.
Speaking on The Left Wing, Independent.ie's rugby podcast, Fitzgerald heaped praise on Frawley after what has been his breakout season.
"I actually think Frawley is very, very close to Ross Byrne," Fitzgerald said.
"I think Frawley is excellent. I like everything about him. I love his tackling, I think he runs the game well, he makes good decisions. He is going to be very hard to hold onto. If you are a coach and you look at him and don't think you can bring him on to be a really top quality player, then you are not a top coach.
"Every time I watch that kid I really like him. I think he has a really nice temperament, he is really tough, he is really fit. He has nice skills and a nice passing."
One of the out-halves currently ahead of Frawley at Leinster is Ross Byrne, who was left out of the Six Nations squad in favour of Connacht ten Jack Carty. With the World Cup around the corner, Byrne is under pressure to regain his place in the squad despite featuring during the November internationals, and Fitzgerald has a firm view as to who Joe Schmidt should select between the two tens.
"Ross Byrne is better, definitely," Fitzgerald said.
"There is no doubt about it, he is a better player. Everyone will go mental at me but I think he is better. The quality to get the kick at the end against Ulster. He has been brilliant against the proper teams on the proper big occasions. Against Toulouse at home he was brilliant. He isn't playing with the first-choice pack every week either. He hasn't had Robbie Henshaw and Garry Ringrose working together outside him all the time and he hasn't always had Luke McGrath there either."