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'He's in a really good place' - Leinster pleased with Frawley's development

The Leinster centre missed out on Andy Farrell’s Six Nations squad last week.

Frawley looked sharp in the wins over Montpellier and Bath this month.
Frawley looked sharp in the wins over Montpellier and Bath this month.
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

THERE WEREN’T TOO many surprises when Andy Farrell announced his Ireland squad for the opening rounds of the Six Nations last week, but Leinster centre Ciarán Frawley was one of the few notable absentees.

Frawley had been included in Farrell’s squad for the November internationals but didn’t make the cut this time around, perhaps paying the price for the disruption Leinster encountered over the Christmas period, with the 24-year-old playing no rugby between the 11 December win over Bath and the record-breaking defeat of Montpellier on 16 January.

But with the player not getting capped during those November games, Leinster senior coach Stuart Lancaster believes Frawley will benefit from staying with the province over the next number of weeks, adding that he’s satisfied with the player’s development this season.

“He’s very versatile, number one,” Lancaster says. “We’re obviously blessed at Leinster with three very good out-halves, so to be able to play him at 12 is a real bonus, because he’s got that physical and athletic presence that you need in a 12 as well. And as you saw at the weekend, the ability to bring him on at 15 as well.

So to have that armoury where he can play 10, 12 and 15 is excellent. But I think it has been good for him just to nail his colours to one mast, to put himself in the ball-playing 12, but also the ability to carry and do everything else.

“I think he’s come on in leaps and bounds recently. It will be great this week, because there’s a good chance he’s going to start at 12 (v Cardiff). Obviously he’s disappointed, as all the lads are who were just on the fringes of missing out on the Ireland squad, but we’ve got Cardiff on Saturday, potential with Ross still available, Harry is going to be available, you’ve got Frawls, you’ve got Jamie Osborne.

“So we’ve still got the ability to put out a really good backline and have a look at someone like Jamie, which will allow Frawls another chance to show more leadership in a team that has less experience, because we’ve got 16/17 Ireland boys having left.

“I think he’s in a really good place. I know the Ireland coaching team think a lot of him. It’s just for him to get more experience now in this window.

ciaran-frawley Frawley during a Leinster training session on Monday. Source: Ben Brady/INPHO

“Ironically the cancellations during Christmas have benefitted this pool of players, because we’ll now play more in the Six Nations window than we were originally set to do. We’ll play five, six games before the Six Nations finishes, so that’s going to be key. And as you know, all it takes is one injury, and suddenly he could be called up anyway.”

Frawley is far from the only Leinster player who will have been disappointed to miss out on Farrell’s squad, and Lancaster explains how the messaging around dealing with that disappointment is a key part of how the province will try manage their squad over the coming block of fixtures.

Leo Cullen’s side are away to Cardiff in the URC this weekend and will host Ospreys and the Lions next month, while their postponed St Stephen’s Day clash with Munster is also expected to be rearranged for some time during the Six Nations. For players who may not have made a matchday squad with Ireland, that’s a lot of minutes to showcase your talents. 

“The players are pretty good to be fair,” Lancaster continues.

Andy Farrell will give them a ring obviously, and his message would be the same as mine really, in that you just need to play rugby and go and put your hand up.

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“Will Connors is a good example, he’s going to be playing this weekend. He’s played what, 20 minutes of rugby (v Ulster in November) in I don’t know how many months. So he’s obviously disappointed not to be involved (with Ireland). I think his last game might have been Scotland (2021 Six Nations), bar that 20 minutes he played. So he wasn’t expecting to get picked.

“Harry’s (Byrne) not been playing, he’s had one or two little injuries, so they all know that the best place for them is to be playing rugby and be playing for Leinster. 

“There’s nothing worse than sitting around thinking about ‘what if this’ or ‘what if that’ and having nowhere to put your frustration.

“Luke McGrath would be in that situation. Rhys Ruddock, Ross Molony, the list goes really of lads who are probably just on the fringes, and our message to them is let’s get into preparing for Cardiff, there’s a good chance one of our rearranged games is going to come the following week, if not the week after, so there is plenty to get into, that’s for sure.” 

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Ciarán Kennedy

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