Saturday 18 November 2017

Emerging star Ryan plays down 'shades of O'Connell' tributes

David Kelly

David Kelly

Former England scrum-half Dewi Morris already reckons he has "shades of Paul O'Connell about him" but Ireland U-20 lock James Ryan is taking all the praise in his stride.

"Thanks," the captain and St Michael's alumnus says sheepishly.

"It's going okay at the moment. I'm just really enjoying playing with this bunch of lads and it's much easier to perform when we have a great set-up."

Ryan starred when Nigel Carolan's men launched an audacious comeback against a powerful English side in Newcastle last weekend, retrieving a 20-6 half-time deficit to secure their first win in the championship.

"He is an outstanding second-row forward and is the coming man," adds Sky pundit Morris. "It might take a couple of years for him to bulk up but he has got what it takes.

"He understands the game, his players, is not fazed about calling lineouts to himself and is as fit as a back-row.

"Ryan scored Ireland's opening try against England when he broke off the back of a driving maul, and then produced a brilliant offload to put prop Andrew Porter over from close range.


"He is a modern-day second row and I see shades of Paul O'Connell in him. Ireland have a fantastic player for the future, and a possible captain. He is that good."

Ryan was one of those involved during training with the senior squad in Mullingar last month but he is trying to remains focused on his side's next challenge against Scotland.

"Personally I'm going okay but I'm more concerned with us pushing on as a team. Beating England away was great for the lads' belief," he said.

"We're looking forward to going again. We put it behind us, we are one from three and we're not going to get too far ahead of ourselves, but it is still a big win."

Leinster forwards coach John Fogarty is also keen not to over-extend this audacious talent.

"He's someone that we're really aware of. He's in the sub-Academy with Dave Fagan at the moment, working way, and you can see that physicality that he's brought to his game.

"He's a talented player, and hopefully he can continue in that vein of form, and come in here next year and kick on. He's gone very, very well.

"I don't want to hold off. I want to see him play, absolutely.

"He's had a season in Lansdowne U-20s, he's in the sub-Academy, he's played his first U-20s Six Nations and then it's the World Cup. Hopefully he can continue on."

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