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'It's massively deserved' - Ulster man O'Sullivan set for Ireland debut against Scots

The 25-year-old prop has been included on the bench for Saturday’s Autumn Nations Cup clash.

Eric O'Sullivan is set for his Ireland debut on Saturday.
Eric O'Sullivan is set for his Ireland debut on Saturday.
Image: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

ULSTER LOOSEHEAD PROP Eric O’Sullivan is set for his Ireland debut on Saturday after being named on the bench for the Autumn Nations Cup clash with Scotland.

The 25-year-old was only called up to Andy Farrell’s squad for the first time last weekend but is now in line for his first Test cap as he provides back-up for Cian Healy in Dublin.

O’Sullivan only made his senior Ulster debut in September 2018, having first linked with the northern province in 2017 after he had missed out on a place in his native Leinster’s full academy.

The skillful O’Sullivan has often been behind the highly-experienced Jack McGrath in the Ulster pecking order in recent seasons but Ireland boss Farrell called on O’Sullivan when Ed Byrne suffered a calf injury recently.

Ireland hooker Rob Herring has backed his provincial team-mate to make an impact if called upon off the bench against Scotland. 

“I’m delighted for Eric, I’ve worked closely with him at Ulster and he’s one of those guys who is an incredibly hard worker,” said Herring.

“It might seem like a quick rise but he has had to be patient at times as well. No doubt having someone like Jack McGrath to compete against over the last couple of seasons has brought his game on in massive strides. He works massively hard and some of the performances that he puts in, the engine he has as a front rower is incredible.

“I think it’s massively deserved. In my eyes, it’s been a long time coming and I’m really excited to see how he goes. It will be a massively proud moment for him.

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“He turned 25 this week and in terms of his professional rugby career, he probably started later than most people but over the last few years he has improved week-on-week. He is realising his goal now but it’s just the start for him. Hopefully, he can get many more caps in the future as well.”

While O’Sullivan is set to debut from the Ireland bench, Farrell has opted for a starting XV including some of his most experienced players like the returning captain Johnny Sexton, scrum-half Conor Murray, flanker Peter O’Mahony and wing Keith Earls.

Farrell wants to see his men finish off an up-and-down 2020 on a high note, particularly given the disappointment of the performance last time out against Georgia.

“We want to be better than that second-half performance and then obviously this is a slightly different team but we know we’re up against a very good Scottish side who were a tough ask the last time we played against them here at the Aviva,” said Farrell.

“Obviously, a lot of what’s been going on over the last five games is about building towards next year’s Six Nations. This is a big building block towards that.”

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Source: The42 Rugby Weekly/SoundCloud

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