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Concern over Leinster's early-season out-half options as Frawley forced off

The province have used four players in the 10 jersey during pre-season.

Frawley lasted just 17 minutes on Friday night.
Frawley lasted just 17 minutes on Friday night.
Image: Brendan Moran

Ryan Bailey reports from Donnybrook 

NOT ONLY DID the departure of Ciaran Frawley early in tonight’s friendly defeat to Newcastle Falcons disrupt Leinster’s rhythm, but raises further concern over the province’s out-half options for the opening weeks of the new season.

The 20-year-old sustained a bang to his arm in the opening exchanges of the European champions’ heavy pre-season defeat at Donnybrook, and although he tried to play on was forced off after 17 minutes.

While the extent of the damage is not yet known, the sight of Frawley holding his right arm as he made his way off is not what Leo Cullen needed just two weeks out from their Guinness Pro14 opener away at Cardiff Blues.

With Johnny Sexton and Ross Byrne taking the delayed path back to action following Ireland’s summer tour of Australia, Leinster’s options at out-half will be conspicuously light should Frawley be sidelined for any significant period of time.

The Skerries native missed the win over Montauban last week with Noel Reid starting in the pivot position, while Jimmy O’Brien and Tom Daly have also deputised in the 10 jersey in pre-season.

Daly came off the bench to score two tries in the 42-17 reversal to the Falcons but is not an out-and-out 10, and the same can be said for fellow centres Reid and O’Brien.

Cullen may be required to delve deeper into the province’s stocks for the first few rounds of Pro14 action before Sexton and Byrne return, with the latter’s younger brother, Harry, an option.

Harry Byrne kicks a conversion Ireland U20 out-half Byrne could be an option for Leinster. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

The former St Michael’s College man featured for Ireland at this summer’s U20 World Championship and has been training with the Leinster senior squad in recent weeks.

Byrne will get a chance to impress Cullen and the rest of the coaching staff when he plays for a Leinster development side against Coventry Rugby at Donnybrook on Saturday.

Frawley wasn’t the only injury concern to emerge from tonight’s hit-out as Will Connors and Joe Tomane both limped off with knee problems, although the Australian centre was withdrawn as a precautionary measure.

Leinster get their Pro14 title defence up and running in Cardiff on Friday 31 August before facing Scarlets — the team they beat in last year’s final — at Parc y Scarlets in round two.

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Ryan Bailey

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