Le Pays De France - Ryan just the man to lead Ireland against France, says Fogarty

Paris -
Ryan just the man to lead Ireland against France, says Fogarty
Ryan just the man to lead Ireland against France, says Fogarty

Ryan just the man to lead Ireland against France, says Fogarty

Ireland fans can take heart for this weekend's Six Nations clash with France that Johnny Sexton's replacement as captain James Ryan "grows as a person when things get tough", scrum coach John Fogarty said on Friday.

Text size:

Second-row Ryan is no stranger to the captain's armband having stepped in for his Leinster team-mate at Test level on several occasions in the past couple of years.

Sexton is forced to sit out the clash of the favourites for the title due to hamstring strain -- he missed last year's defeat to France in Dublin due to concussion.

It was the last time Ireland lost and they are hoping to make it 10 successive Test wins this Saturday having produced a dominant performance in the victory over tournament champions Wales last weekend.

They meet a vibrant France that opened with a thrashing of Italy.

Fogarty, though, said there should be no doubting 25-year-old Ryan is as much of a leader as the vastly more experienced Sexton.

"James grows as a person when things get tough," said Fogarty at the eve of match press conference.

"He's shown that time and time again that he can dig deep and he leads by example a huge amount of the time on the field and he'll be very focused in how he speaks and clear in how he speaks."

Fogarty said it is not just in terms of what he says that Ryan gives a lead but also in how he performs in training during the week.

"His preparation during the week builds confidence in everyone around him and once we get to the pitch and we need people to front up, he leads in those ways," said Fogarty.

"That's what I'll say about James, he's an excellent professional and he's admired by the group for those reasons."

- 'A better place' -

Fogarty said Sexton -- who head coach Andy Farrell believes will be unavailable for around 10 days -- will still have his say as he travelled over with the squad.

"Johnny will have a presence, I'm sure he'll be helping out in the backline," said Fogarty.

One of those who Sexton will have a word with will be Joey Carbery, who has replaced him at fly-half in what is the 26-year-old's first Six Nations start, six years after making his Test debut.

Fogarty is impressed by what he has seen of Carbery since he was told he would be starting.

"Without a doubt when you are moved up to start there will always be a little bit of nerves," he said.

"He (Carbery) hasn't shown any.

"He looks very ready. He's nice and focused about what he wants to do so it is an exciting challenge for Ireland to see Joey in there."

Fogarty said there will be no firing up of emotions ahead of the match.

"There's usually a quiet few words and a focus on understanding our game plan, understanding the challenges, and trying to gain a sense of calm before we get on the bus to the stadium," said the 44-year-old former Leinster hooker.

"That's sort of the theme we've tried to develop through Faz (Farrell) over the last two years, trying to develop that calmness of mind so we can play the game in front of us."

Fogarty does not believe his side are underdogs now Sexton is out nor because they have lost their last two meetings with France.

"We're not thinking of where we sit in the minds of everybody else," he said.

"We have played France twice over the last two years and when we came here last time out, we didn't feel as ready as we do now.

"We feel that we've taken the learnings from the games we've played in and we're in a better place."