Irish coaches excited by 'French flair' of highly-rated centre Frisch

Meanwhile, Ulster scrum-half Michael McDonald is out to impress in South Africa.

26-year-old Munster centre Antoine Frisch.
26-year-old Munster centre Antoine Frisch.
Image: Evan Treacy/INPHO

Updated Oct 5th 2022, 8:31 AM

BY WEDNESDAY EVENING, Antoine Frisch will have played as many games in a green Irish jersey as a red Munster one.

The 26-year-old centre joined the southern province from Bristol at the end of last season and only had the chance to make a brief debut off the bench in their season opener against Cardiff before he was whisked away on the Emerging Ireland tour.

A native of France who qualifies for Ireland through his Dublin-born grandmother, Frisch is a highly-rated talent. Munster had to beat off plenty of competition to sign him on a three-year deal.

While today’s Emerging clash with the Pumas doesn’t count as an Ireland cap, it may be a precursor to senior Test involvement down the line. These are early days for the former Rouen midfielder but there is great excitement about what he could offer. Frisch will hope to show his skills in the number 13 shirt in Bloemfontein today.

“Frischy has got that French flair, if I may say that,” says Ireland attack coach Mike Catt. “He has got real time on the ball. I’m actually very interested to see how he goes.

“Defensively, he is a smart rugby player. That 13 channel is obviously hard to defend but we have got every confidence in him there.

“I think if we can get his hands on the ball, he makes really good decisions. He’s a lot stronger than people sort of give him credit for too. It’s a team that has been put together. He has been around for a while and he’s able to make sure that he leads that defensive stuff but also in attack.”

Joining Frisch in the Emerging Ireland side is another player who signed for one of the Irish provinces from abroad over the summer.

michael-mcdonald Ulster scrum-half Michael McDonald. Source: Steve Haag/INPHO

Scrum-half Michael McDonald is a native of Louth who moved to Australia with his family as a child, played for the Australia U20s, Force, and Waratahs, and has now returned to his homeland to join Ulster.

The 23-year-old hasn’t even had a chance to feature for Dan McFarland’s side yet but the Irish coaches are eager to see more of him after McDonald came off the bench in last Friday’s big win over the Griquas.

“He’s got a bit more experience than a lot of the guys on this trip,” says Catt. “He kicks box kicks with left and right feet as well as the other, which is pretty impressive. He has got a real knowledge of the game, so he has been able to lead.

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“He voices his opinions in the sessions, which is great. We need those little bit more senior players who have been around the block a bit more. He’s a good guy, he has fitted in perfectly, and ultimately he wants to put a proper green jersey on. That’s the drive he’s going to go with.”

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First published today, 01.01

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