For a man who admitted after the Guinness PRO 14 win over Scarlets that he was ‘bricking it’, Ciaran Frawley certainly did not look like someone whose nerves were shattered when coolly slotting over his first two kicks for Leinster on his debut.
The 20-year-old Skerries native was on the bench for the previous week’s encounter away to Edinburgh but was finally called upon on Saturday when centre Rory O’Loughlin was taken off with a knock to the head at the RDS. His nerves would not have been helped by the fact that he ran as outhalf in training all week ahead of the visit of the Welsh club.
“It was such a pleasure to watch him,” Blues scrum coach John Fogarty said at Leinster HQ this afternoon before remarking on the replacement's first kick, a conversion which was hugging the touchline following Luke McGrath’s second half try.
“One of his first involvements was taking that kick from the left hand side and he popped it over. I thought in his involvements he showed composure in the game, even though there was a lot of pressure on us at that stage, Scarlets were really pushing hard on us. I thought that he composed himself really, really well.
“He showed that he’s able to compete at this level and when you get a young kid in that’s what you want to see early on, you don’t want to see him being frazzled too much. There’s always nerves but he held himself really well in the game and afterwards I spoke to him, I said it to him, “You were really composed, well done.” He said, “ I was absolutely bricking it, I really was nervous throughout my minutes.” I said, “Well you didn’t show it, I can’t wait to see you when you’re not bricking it!”
“We’re delighted to see Ciaran come on and do so well. We’re lucky that when the [international] guys are away it gives us the opportunity to see these players and they get to develop in these windows. Other provinces or other [clubs] haven’t got those windows to be able to see those types of players so we’re very lucky that we have those windows to see these players and they’re doing great. Will Connors is another kid who’s done really well over the last two weeks and this week coming is another opportunity against Kings.”
Shamrock Rovers underage coach and Irish football legend Damien Duff watching Leinster training with Blues kitman Johnny O'Hagan - ©INPHO/Oisin Keniry
Two injuries in particular could spell a first start for Frawley when Southern Kings pitch up at the RDS on Friday night. The aforementioned O’Loughlin is following return to play protocols after he underwent a Head Injury Assessment when he was taken off. Fogarty admitted that he is unlikely to be ready with just a six day turnaround between games. Frawley switched to his more familiar outhalf position when Ross Byrne went off with a hip injury late on. Byrne will be assessed as the week rolls on but if he is declared unfit, it could open the door for the new man.
Fogarty was asked if Frawley’s impressive debut performance would mean that the Leinster coaching staff would not be reluctant to throw him in against Southern Kings this weekend.
“We’ll see yeah, we’ll see how it goes. There could naturally present itself an opportunity for Ciaran to be in. In one way hopefully it does because we get to have another look. In other ways it takes away from the cohesion of the team when you have to make these changes so we’ll see during the week how the lads travel and if he does get the opportunity I’m sure...for us it’s very exciting but everyone else will get to see what he’s like again.”