Tuesday 20 August 2019

Ryan injury set to open door for Leinster starlet Porter

Andrew Porter will start against Fiji
Andrew Porter will start against Fiji
Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

Andrew Porter will follow his former Ireland U-20 colleagues Jacob Stockdale and James Ryan into November action against Fiji this weekend.

John Ryan picked up a calf injury during Saturday's win over South Africa and has returned to Munster, along with Tommy O'Donnell and Keith Earls. Dan Leavy's hamstring problem has seen him sent back to recover at Leinster.

Jordi Murphy and Sean Reidy have joined the Irish camp at Carton House, but the prime beneficiary appears to be 21-year-old power-house Porter, who won two caps off the bench against the United States and Japan last summer.

Schmidt has chosen not to replace Ryan in the squad, which means Porter - who only shifted across from loosehead to tighthead last season - and Tadhg Furlong are the only tighthead props in the squad.

Schmidt has suggested that he will not make wholesale changes to his side for the second game of the Guinness Series, but will rotate is squad in order to keep some level of continuity from weeks one to three.

Fiji and Argentina, the two remaining opponents, are ranked at nine and 10 in the World Rugby rankings which limits the coach's scope to make sweeping changes.

Along with Leinster man Max Deegan, who has yet to make the step up to the senior ranks, Stockdale, Ryan and Porter were the stars of the 2016 U-20 World Cup campaign that saw Ireland reach the final for the first time.

All four have been involved in senior action for their provinces this season having been given international debuts last June and Schmidt appears keen to expose them to the highest level as frequently as he can. Stockdale starred in last Saturday's win, while Ryan impressed during his brief cameo.

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A physical specimen whose gym-work has caught the eye of his Leinster colleagues since he came into the Academy, Porter (pictured)is possibly the rawest of the crew given his inexperience on the right-hand side of the scrum.

However, Fiji would not be renowned as a particularly strong scrummaging team and Porter's gifts around the park will be suited to taking on the Islanders.

Whether he'll start in order to give Furlong a break remains to be seen, but he is almost certain to have some involvement.

Given only one of his seven Leinster appearances have been starts, it seems unlikely he'll be handed the No 3 shirt just yet.

Rob Kearney looks set to continue at full-back after being put forward for media duties yesterday. The full-back is low on game-time, having just played 80 minutes for Leinster since damaging his hamstring in September.

Given he picked up an ear injury that required stitches, Peter O'Mahony may make way for Rhys Ruddock while another Leinster back-row Jack Conan is another who may come into consideration after sitting out some of last week's training sessions, while Jack McGrath will hope for a recall.

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