James Crombie/INPHO Carty has tipped Murray to play for Ireland.
On the up
Carty backs Dowling and Murray to take the next step
The two Connacht locks were outstanding against Stade in Sunday’s Champions Cup game.

JACK CARTY HAS tipped Connacht’s two up-and-coming locks to make the leap from provincial to international rugby.

Between them Niall Murray (22) and Oisin Dowling (24) marshalled Connacht’s set-piece during Sunday’s 36-9 win over Stade Francais, and now Carty, their captain, is delivering the view they can go to a higher level.

“I think they can make it (with Ireland),” said Carty. “You have two already with Leva (Fifita, a Tongan international) and Ultan (Dillane) so the competition is fierce. But whenever the two lads have been given an opportunity, they’ve been producing so that’s what you want. That will push Ultan and Leva on as well and if they continue on the trajectory they’re on at the moment with the work-rate they have, they definitely will be in the shop window.”

Connacht coach, Andy Friend, added: “Both Oisin and Niall were in the team by design, 100 per cent by design. We trust them; they’re hard workers, good players.”

Connacht don’t just have good players but smart ones. Sunday was one of those games they could have lost, certainly the momentum seemed to be shifting away from them as the clock ticked from half-time towards the 70-minute mark. Connacht hadn’t scored in that timeframe, the gap was just 10 points. All the momentum seemed to be with Stade. Yet it was Connacht who outscored their visitors, 17-0, in the final 10 minutes.

“There were a couple of games last season when we had situations like that,” said Carty, “when we had five-metres scrums and the decision-making from myself and game leaders maybe wasn’t up to where it should be. But that’s experience and then you speak about it afterwards about the next time you know what you are going to do.

“We’d a really clear game-planning term of certain places of the pitch. Once I have that I’m confident and then our set-piece with Oisin and Niall, especially with the size of their back-row lineout strengths, we managed that fantastically well, we nearly got all of our lineouts. The work the coaches have been doing with them after tough training sessions with lineout work is a credit to them. It’s pretty phenomenal.”

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