"It was cool, I have to say... pretty humbling" - James Ryan on captaincy honour
"We got a pool table put in camp so I’ve been winning a good bit of money with that!"
James Ryan is growing into it. Getting more comfortable in his skin, and in his growing role within this Ireland team.
The Leinster lock has always done his talking on the pitch, but he has never been the most loquacious off it. Many of his press appearances are short and sweet. Each question gets a sentence in reply. Maybe two.
But all that is starting to change. Friday evening at the Aviva Stadium saw Ryan take over the Ireland captaincy, after 28 minutes, when Johnny Sexton limped off. Peter O'Mahony and Cian Healy were on the pitch when Sexton left the fray, but both deferred to Ryan.
Following the game - another 80+ minute showing from the second row - Ryan was in more talkative form that we have previously come to expect. Due to time restrictions, we only got six minutes with the 24-year-old, but he was at his most relaxed. He even tossed in a couple of jokes.
How about that Quinn Roux performance?
He was brilliant, delighted for him. He obviously came in at late notice as well, which made it even more impressive that he was able to transition so well. Great to see him get over, that’s what he offers. He’s such a big physical unit and he was brilliant.
Andrew Porter was excellent. You must be used to seeing that on a daily basis?
We were delighted. I think at this level set-piece is so important and I think we responded really well this week. The scrum was really, really strong. Ports was unbelievable in that area, obviously Church was as well, so was Ronan. We were getting really forward so delighted with that and something that we need to keep building on. Obviously, we’ll have to step up again next week.
Bigger test coming up against England?
They are up there with the best sides in the world. We definitely need to be better next week. Although we were really pleased with some parts of our game, particularly the defence and the set-piece. That’s the difference at this level. To keep them scoreless was really good and they are two areas that we’ll have to be really strong next week to get a result.
Taking over the captaincy from Sexton must have been a big moment?
It was cool, I have to say, I didn’t expect it. It was pretty humbling but I just got on with it. It was very much [myself and Pete O’Mahony] making some of the decisions. It’s great having guys like Pete and having such a great leadership group around me. I was delighted.
What are you guys doing for rest and relaxation in camp?
We got a pool table put in camp so I’ve been winning a good bit of money with that! There’s a bit of pool a bit of Playstation, there was a quiz night. The social committee of James Lowe and Will Connors have been keeping us busy in fairness. I forget who won [the quiz]. Keith Earls and Chris Farrell claim they won it. I’m taking a lot of money off Ross Byrne and Andrew Porter, actually as well, so they’ve nothing left!
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Season 3 has returned with Ian Madigan & Eimear Considine as hosts. You can catch up on all our episodes from past seasons and interviews with Conrad Smith, Victor Matfield, Simon Zebo, Sean O'Brien, Drew Mitchell, James Ryan, Conor Murray, Jean De Villiers, Finn Russell, Mike Brown, Brian O'Driscoll, Tana Umaga and much, much more.