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'I spoke to him after the match and he said: 'I was absolutely bricking it, absolutely bricking it''

Ciaran Frawley’s debut against Scarlets left John Fogarty impressed, and he could be in line for a first start this Friday night.

Frawley kicked five points on his senior debut.
Frawley kicked five points on his senior debut.
Image: Byran Keane/INPHO

IT SHOULDN’T COME as any surprise, but as the wheel continues to turn at Leinster, and the province facilitates the development of an array of young talent, you can’t help but marvel at it all.

Ciaran Frawley is the next cab off the rank, and on Saturday his arrival as an out-half contender was confirmed with an assured and composed senior debut as an earlier-than-expected first-half replacement.

The Skerries man, who had been on the bench for the defeat in Edinburgh a week previous, was thrown in at the deep end against the Scarlets when Rory O’Loughlin was hit by Steff Hughes and never returned. It was sink or swim territory.

But if the fine margins between success and failure at this level are defined by the ability to seize an opportunity when one presents itself, these Leinster academy offspring are programmed to do so.

Leo Cullen had spoken about Frawley’s versatility in the pre-match press conference and it was evident at the RDS as he slotted in at 12 before assuming kicking duties off Ross Byrne, who had picked up a hip knock.

“It was such a pleasure to watch him,” scrum coach John Fogarty said of Frawley, Leinster’s fifth choice out-half.

One of his first involvements led to Leinster’s breakthrough score. If he was beset by nerves, Frawley didn’t show it. He kicked off the second half, nailed a touchline conversion and then calmly slotted over a late penalty which crucially made it a two-score game.

“I thought that he composed himself really, really well,” Fogarty continues. “He showed that he’s able to compete at this level and when you get a young kid in that’s what you want to see early on, you don’t want to see him being frazzled too much.

John Fogarty Fogarty arriving for Leinster training at UCD yesterday. Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

“I said to him after the match. ‘Jeeze, you did a great job. So composed in your minutes.’ And he said: ‘I was absolutely bricking it, absolutely bricking it. I said: ‘Oh my God. It’s going to be great to see you when you feel confident because you did a great job.’ He’s a guy that we’ll potentially see against Kings, I’m not sure.”

Byrne and O’Loughlin are struggling — both considered doubtful to be fit for the Kings — so we may well see Frawley again on Friday night. It’s amazing how quickly doors can open, particularly at Leinster where they are more willing to give those opportunities than most.

“In this window I think we’ve 38 players away with Sevens, the U20s and the Irish squad, and the injured group,” Fogarty explains. “With that many people away we get the opportunity to see someone like Ciaran Frawley come on and knock one over, and then be very composed throughout his minutes. It was brilliant to see him get that opportunity.

“A lot of other places [clubs] don’t get the opportunity to play these players and at different times of the season we get these windows when we can show and develop these younger players. Will Connors, Josh Murphy and Ciaran Frawley, that’s as exciting especially if you’ve been involved with them at EPO (Elite Player Development Officer) level or younger.”

Leo Cullen’s squad depth will be tested further this week, but those aforementioned names have already proved they can cut it at this level, providing reassurance for the coaches and huge satisfaction for the club as a whole.

Save for the late defeat to Edinburgh a fortnight ago, Leinster continue to ride the crest of a wave and have won 10 of their last 11 outings in all competitions, losing just twice this season — against Glasgow and Richard Cockerill’s side.

Josh Murphy Josh Murphy is expected to start again this weekend. Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

Saturday’s victory over the defending Pro12 champions saw the eastern province steal a march on the Scarlets in Conference B, and the expectation — despite the loss of so many players — is that they’ll have no problems in dispatching bottom-of-the-table Kings, who have yet to record a victory this term. It should be a night for the kids again.

“The fans base will expect us to win and, again, they were savage last weekend,” Fogarty added. “There’s a buzz out there that’s building in the fan base. I thought they (the Kings) did a good job against the Ospreys. They were up at half-time. They’ve got real speed in their team, and that’s always a threat.

“Over there [South Africa] actually, they took the ball off us quite a bit. So if you think of the Scarlets game, and the turnovers we had in contact, not the other turnovers, we were very disappointed with that and this week they can take the ball off us. So we’re very aware that they can hurt us.

“Overall, we were very happy. We had 16,900 people at the game and that makes us really happy. We get to be at home again this week.

“There is so much that is very positive. But, there are things we need to do better.”

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