Ciaran Frawley has the opportunity to earn his place on the plane to the World Cup in France with a big performance on the Emerging Ireland tour, according to Liam Toland and Rúaidhrí O'Connor.
Ireland's national coaching group have named a 35-man squad for their upcoming Emerging Ireland tour of South Africa.
Emerging Ireland will have a three day camp in the IRFU’s High Performance Centre in Dublin before flying to Bloemfontein to play against three Currie Cup sides – the Griquas, Pumas and Cheetahs.
Included in the squad is Leinster's Ciaran Frawley, who 'took his opportunity' at 10 when Ireland faced the Maori All Blacks in the summer.
For former Leinster loose forward Liam Toland and the Independent's Rúaidhrí O'Connor, Frawley could be the answer the never-ending question: Who will take over from Johnny Sexton.
Speaking on Wednesday Night Rugby, Toland expressed what he hopes to see come out of this tour to Bloemfontein.
"If there are any question marks around the validity of this tour, when you hear the head coach speaking around the importance of a pivotal position," Toland said.
""If nothing else, if this tour provides Andy Farrell and his management with a credible succession line beyond Johnny Sexton... that would be a phenomenal return.
"If Ciaran Frawley comes back, not just as a 10, but as a man, as a leader. Most of us watch the game at the weekend and that's it. But the value of being in the Leinster environment week in and week out is enormously important."
Toland feels that Frawley has the opportunity to show that he can control the week leading up to a big match, and lead the team on the field.
"Frawley [needs] to go out there and be seen to man up," Toland said. "That doesn't mean he needs to shout and roar and be a bully.
"There's probably something about [Joey] Carbery at times, in spite of his talent and his skill, is he really controlling the fixture? You get a sense from what Farrell is saying that he wants the next 10 to be able to control not just the fixture, but control the week.
"That's some commentary from the Irish coach. It's a lot of pressure. If that happens, and Frawley is comfortable, I think we have a serious player on our hands anyway, but that would really copper fasten it."
Has Frawley now overtaken Harry Byrne?
For O'Connor, who joined Toland on Wednesday Night Rugby, Frawley's inclusion in the touring squad suggests that he has overtaken Harry Byrne in the Leinster and national pecking order.
"Harry Byrne is fit," O'Connor said. "Harry Byrne has won caps under Andy Farrell, and went on the New Zealand tour we think as the third choice number 10.
"He picked up an injury over there and came back having watched Ciaran Frawley lead the backline in two games against the Maori.
"Now, Harry Byrne is at Leinster while Frawley is off with this Emerging Ireland squad. Byrne is at Leinster at a time where Johnny Sexton is going to be reintegrated back into the team at some stage, and Ross Byrne is still there and still, we think, higher up the pecking order.
"Has Ciaran Frawley moved above Harry Byrne now in the pecking order? Is that what we are to read into this?"
O'Connor has always been a fan of Frawley playing outhalf. With his strengths at inside centre, O'Connor believes that Frawley could fill the shoes of Irish captain Sexton, particularly on defence.
"Luke Fitzgerald has been banging on for years about Frawley, how he should be playing 10 and is wasted at 12," O'Connor said. "You look at him, and physically he is very robust.
"He plays a lot of games. Maybe a stint at 12 helps in this regard, but he looks the closest thing there is to Johnny Sexton physically in terms of a defensive number 10. That's the most underrated side to Sexton's game."
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