A young Ireland fan asks James Lowe for his boots. Dan Sheridan/INPHO
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Ireland challenge players to be 'leaders' for provinces ahead of Six Nations

The United Rugby Championship returns this weekend, with the Champions Cup on the horizon.

IRELAND’S COACHES HAVE challenged their players to return to their provinces and become leaders over the coming months as they look to earn a place in Andy Farrell’s squad for the Six Nations.

Farrell used 31 players during this month’s impressive Test wins over Japan, New Zealand, and Argentina and he and his coaches are hoping for even tougher selection calls ahead of next year’s championship.

Some players left Ireland camp on Sunday without having featured out on the pitch at all during this campaign but the Irish coaching staff have told their entire squad that there will be opportunities in the Six Nations if they can prove a point for Munster, Connacht, Ulster, and Leinster.

“We expect them to become leaders in their provinces now,” said Ireland attack coach Mike Catt.

“Not all of them are and we need them to go back and play week in, week out like they play for Ireland and they really need to take the lead and make Andy pick them.

“Don’t get into a 50/50 with another player. They need to go back and make sure they share their experiences with their club-mates and make sure they keep driving their standards to where we want them to be.”

It has been an excellent month for Ireland’s attack, with Catt deserving credit for his part in improving Ireland’s decision-making, passing, and ability to run convincing lines to pose varied questions of defences.

Having scored 19 tries in three games, Catt believes Ireland are still only scratching the surface with their attack.

“The more time we can spend with the players, the more time we can get them to understand and get them to believe in the way that we play and understand each other,” said Catt.

“You’re putting players from different provinces in and being able to gel together so the more and more they do that, the better and better they will become and the more competition will happen and then drive the team to higher heights.”

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