Craig Casey and four Leinster stars feature in French scouting report for Six Nations
French rugby fans know all about Johnny Sexton and Simon Zebo, and they have a grá for Conor Murray.
We are now under three weeks from the start of the 2022 Six Nations, and the scouting reports on Ireland are being compiled. Craig Casey and a few of his inter-provincial rivals are well on the radar.
Although they only finished third in last year's championship, Andy Farrell's men finished on a high by winning their last three games. They carried on that good form to stretch the winning streak to eight Tests, including that rousing win over the All Blacks, last November.
Ireland supporters traditionally get more optimistic about their Six Nations chances in years when they have England and France at home. However, they did when their latest Grand Slam, in 2018, after winning on the road in Paris and London.
French outlet Rugbyrama [sister publication to the Midi Olympique newspaper] has put together a piece on the young talents driving Ireland on. It features Munster scrumhalf Craig Casey and four Leinster stars.
The young Ireland players to watch in the Six Nations
The Rugbyrama piece on young Irish talents starts off with the excellent Leinster back row, Caelan Doris. The 23-year-old is described as 'powerful and dynamic' while it is noted he was named Best Player of the Autumn Nations Series. It adds:
'He should be one of the spearheads of the Irish pack.'
Up next is the 'mobile finisher' Rónan Kelleher. The hooker, also 23, made the British & Irish Lions squad as a late call-up, last summer, having trained with them in Jersey before they set off for South Africa. The piece focuses on Kelleher's try-scoring stats and his excellent performance in the win over New Zealand.
The second Irish hooker to make the 'Top 5' scouting list is Kelleher's Leinster teammate, Dan Sheehan. Just half a year younger than Kelleher, Sheehan's 'rise to power' is predicted to continue in the Six Nations. He, too, is capable of devastating tries.
Craig Casey and a not-so-young gun
Signalling 5-foot-5 Munster scrumhalf Craig Casey as the future in the Ireland No.9 jersey would no doubt force Conor Murray and Jamison Gibson-Park to re-double their efforts when the squad assembles in very late January.
22-year-old Casey has certainly shown the big match temperament but he may have to bide his time in the upcoming championship. Excited by what they have already seen, the author of the piece declares:
'He would bring a breath of fresh air and youth to the scrum-half position.'
Sneaking in as a young gun [we will allow it until he turns 26 in June] is Hugo Keenan. Most of us in Ireland were concerned about who would replace Rob Kearney as Ireland fullback, but Keenan has taken to the task superbly.
Praised as 'versatile, fast and precise in footwork', Keenan has been tipped to make even further strides in the upcoming Six Nations.