Johnny Sexton took the headlines but one man did Trojan work elsewhere
The future is green.
James Ryan got through a mountain of work on his Six Nations debut on Saturday in Paris.
The Leinster lock was named earlier in the week as one of three new faces added to the Irish team facing Les Bleus in their Six Nations game in Stade de France.
Ryan, who made his Ireland debut in the summer before playing for Leinster, was selected at lock ahead of Devin Toner.
The 21-year-old, who just claimed his fifth cap, was involved in absolutely every way on the pitch. Leading the charge in both attack and defence, it's undeniable that this game was his.
One Six Nations game in and there are already whispers that he is the ideal Paul O'Connell replacement and future Ireland Captain.
And as a former captain at St Michael's College and Ireland U20, he knows all about leading young men.
James Ryan is outstanding...the future is green...c’mon Ireland 🇮🇪#FRAvIRE
— seamus feehan (@sfeehan27) February 3, 2018
— Cathal (@CathalU2ie) February 3, 2018
— Aidan Dwyer (@Dwyer87_) February 3, 2018
James Ryan, when you think of his age and potential, is having a fecking terrifying game.
And it's great.
— Andy McGeady (@andymcgeady) February 3, 2018
— JP McCarthy (@JP_McCarthy) February 3, 2018
Despite showing huge maturity for his age, it was the quality of the Dublin-native's tackling that really got people talking today. A natural from start to finish, it's as if Ryan is on his fiftieth cap.
We think it's safe to say that the forwards earned their keep in today's match, with Ryan definitely earning his stripes amongst the veterans.
Just two months ago, Munster captain Peter O'Mahony – another forward identified as a leader from an early age – had this to say about the 6-foot-8 second row: "Young fellas these days are getting quite big. He's a big man. James has got that intelligent nous about him and, as Joe [Schmidt] says, he gets stuck in when he is asked to."
It's not wild to think that we've just witnessed the start of something big.