"I see he won the James Ryan award again, for man of the match" - Devin Toner 2 months ago

"I see he won the James Ryan award again, for man of the match" - Devin Toner

"Rory is a legend around these parts, and a legend around the whole of Ireland."

Devin Toner's comments on Ireland captain Rory Best, ahead of his final game in the Guinness Six Nations, got a rapturous response from the crowd at the Belfast Empire, during a live recording of Baz & Andrew's House of Rugby. 

The Leinster and Ireland lock joined Barry Murphy and Andrew Trimble in Belfast to look ahead to the championship's final weekend of action. Toner started the opening game against England but damaged his ankle in the second half and has since undergone surgery to get him back for the business end of Leinster's season.

Toner paid tribute to Best but noted that he needed a little help from James Ryan, his second row partner, to get his team's opening try against France.

During a wide-ranging interview [from 4:00 below], Toner's comments on Ryan show how well regarded he is in the Irish set-up. He also spoke about the two intense Irish teammates he is glad are playing on his side.

(Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile)

"I was delighted to see Rory get that try," said Toner. "I think it was James Ryan that picked him up and over the line and put him down!"

"Yeah, I know," Trimble responded. "Rory drove himself over and I was thinking to myself, 'Rory hasn't got that much of a leg drive'. James Ryan had got him by the scruff of his neck and, Nelson Muntz style, just bashed him over the tryline."

On Ryan, who now has 14 Test wins in 16 appearances for Ireland, Toner said:

"Obviously, James is the new phenom coming up. He won the James Ryan award again, for man of the match. He has been unbelievable for the last two or three years."

Ryan will need to be at his very best, this weekend, when Ireland visit the Principality Stadium to take on a Welsh team one victory away from a Grand Slam. Anticipating an all-out war, Barry Murphy asked if Ireland could do with a few more full-on battlers - or psychos - taking to the field in Cardiff.

MURPHY: "You Whereas Paul O'Connell, we literally called him 'Psychopath' at Munster... because he was such a psycho. Is that something that is going out of the game these days? Would you be looking at many other international players and thinking, 'F***, he's a psycho?'"

TONER: "It is going out a little bit now. Because obviously we the amount of camera angles, you can't do anything, and replays and stuff. It's not always dirty stuff but it is going out of the game a bit. But there are still your fair share of psychos out there now, as well, too."

MURPHY: "Are there any on your own team where you'd go, 'Nice one, I've got a psycho on my team'? Because I used to love have Paul O'Connell on my team."

TONER: "O'Mahony. Pete O'Mahony would be up there. Cian Healy. Some of those boys."

The comments are made with the greatest of respect for the ferocious characters and will to win that those players possess.

Credit: eir Sport

These are the men who, when they are primed and on top form, who you are so grateful are on your side of the pitch.

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