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16th Mar 2017

Donnacha Ryan’s fiery comments have given us hope again

This man is READY

Patrick McCarry

Joe Schmidt said he was always planning on giving one of his locks a rest for the England game. Donnacha Ryan took the decision out of his hands – there was no bloody way he was getting dropped.

The Tipperary native was the best Ireland player on the park in Cardiff last Friday night. He matched Welsh fire with some heat of his own and relished every single moment.

By the time the first half was out, Ryan and fellow lock Devin Toner had made 23 tackles. He had landed 13 himself and he was keen for more.

In the second half, as Ireland battled to get back into the game, he even split George North and Rhys Webb to produce a line break and set up a great scoring platform.

Following the 22-9 loss to Wales, Ryan was as bullish off the pitch as he had been on it. In the post-match mixed zone, he refused to admit Ireland’s performances had dropped off from the highs of November 2016.

“No, I don’t think so,” he declared. “We haven’t become a bad team overnight. We know what we are capable of doing.”

We told him about a win over England securing top seeding for Ireland at the next World Cup. Ryan blinked and then blinked again. All he cared about was going out there again to right some wrongs. He replied:

“All that stuff takes care at itself. The management and staff may mention [the World Cup] but, from our point of view, we’ll be looking at what we did wrong… That’s what we are programmed to do. We focus on the task at hand rather than getting bogged down on the externals. We have to focus on getting our own stuff together.

“We are motivated every time we go out to play but we’ll be playing at home and obviously the fans will be looking to get involved as much as they can and the whole English team and all. If we focus on ourselves, though, the rest will look after itself.”

Ryan was up for interviews at Carton House on Thursday afternoon, minutes after he had been named in the second row alongside Iain Henderson. He was impatient and ornery in his latest piece of press duty as he had been beneath the stands of the Principality Stadium.

Asked who would be making the lineout calls, Ryan wasn’t answering. Asked if Ireland had special calls in store for England, he scoffed.

“It’s always a very emotionally-charged weekend. Fans massively get in behind it and obviously Paddy’s Day tomorrow. They’re all uncertain things.

“We know England are a fantastic side. There’s a massive challenge put down to us, we just have to make sure we’re able to execute our own plan.”

We’ll see when they see.

Ryan will make us see.

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