Leinster’s promising Ryan the latest Ireland U20s captain from Michael’s

Others such as Noel Reid, Ross Byrne, Ross Molony, Cian Kelleher and Denis Coulson have come off the Michael’s production line in the last number of seasons, but many argue that 19-year-old Ryan is the most promising of the lot.

The son of former Leinster back row Mark, Ryan has already skippered Ireland at U18 level and also led the Leinster U18s, U19s and U20s, as well as his school’s Senior Cup team.

This Friday night in Donnybrook, the visit of Wales for Ireland’s opening clash of the U20 Six Nations [KO 7.35pm] provides Ryan with perhaps his biggest test yet.

The Lansdowne clubman is “really proud” to have been handed the honour by head coach Nigel Carolan, but points out that the likes of Munster U20 captain Paul Kiernan and Ulster U20 captain Andrew McBurney will be important in aiding his leadership.

Standing at 6’8″ and now weighing 108kg after his routine of four weights sessions a week with Dave Fagan and the Leinster sub-academy, Ryan is part of a relatively hefty batch of Ireland U20 forwards this season.

Returning prop pair Conan O’Donnell – a tighthead of eight senior Connacht caps – and loosehead Andrew Porter – whose physical prowess is remarkable – will be important and Ryan is enthusiastic about playing behind those men.

“I think the pack is probably bigger than other years, guys like Andrew and Conan, they’re big fellas and will hopefully give us an edge in the scrum,” says Ryan.

“Obviously we’ve got a lot of talented backs as well who have a lot of x-factor, guys like [Leinster fullback] Jack Power, [Ulster wing] Jacob Stockdale, those kind of guys. It seems like a decent mix.”

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