Sunday 19 November 2017

'Is he sixth or seventh choice at this stage?' - Neil Francis says young Munster star must wait for Ireland breakthrough

10 December 2016; Darren Sweetnam of Munster is tackled by Adam Thompstone, left, and Tom Youngs of Leicester Tigers during the European Rugby Champions Cup Pool 1 Round 3 match between Munster and Leicester Tigers at Thomond Park in Limerick. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
10 December 2016; Darren Sweetnam of Munster is tackled by Adam Thompstone, left, and Tom Youngs of Leicester Tigers during the European Rugby Champions Cup Pool 1 Round 3 match between Munster and Leicester Tigers at Thomond Park in Limerick. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Will Slattery

Will Slattery

Most Munster fans have been scanning each recent Ireland squad announcement looking for Darren Sweetnam's name, but although the young wing has yet to earn an international cap, it feels like his time in green will come sooner rather than later.

Munster's late win against the Ospreys last Saturday evening was another showcase for the 23-year-old, with Brian O'Driscoll one of many heaping praise on the back's performance after another prominent outing.

The Ireland legend said he expected Sweetnam to pick up a cap at some stage in 2017, with the summer tour to Japan and the USA an ideal time for Joe Schmidt to blood the young Munster star along with a host of other promising talents.

Sunday Independent columnist Neil Francis struck a more cautionary note when discussing Sweetnam's prospects, disagreeing with the notion that he might break into the squad before the end of the Six Nations.

However, when speaking to Matt Cooper on The Last Word on Today FM yesterday, Francis said he did expect Sweetnam to make the squad for the summer tour.

"Maybe next year, not this year," Francis said of a Six Nations call-up.

"Why pick him in the squad now? He has been in one or two of the squads but you'd really need to know the system. To come in midway through a Six Nations championship is not the time to pick him.

"He will be brought to Japan [for the summer tour]. He did look very sharp against the Ospreys. He has great feet. His time will come but I don't know, is he sixth or seventh choice at this stage? He has to wait for some brilliant form so they can't leave him out. He has been unlucky, he got injured as well and that hasn't helped him throughout the season."

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