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Keith Wood: Why 'stunning' James Ryan shouldn't let Lions snub change his game

As James Ryan comes to terms with his omission from the British and Irish Lions tour, Keith Wood ...

Ciaran Bradley
Ciaran Bradley

21:08 10 May 2021



Rugby

Keith Wood: Why 'stunning' James Ryan shouldn't let Lions snub change his game

Ciaran Bradley
Ciaran Bradley

21:08 10 May 2021


As James Ryan comes to terms with his omission from the British and Irish Lions tour, Keith Wood has explained that he should not adapt his game off the back of it.

Wood spoke to Wednesday Night Rugby about Ryan, and believes that Warren Gatland's preference for brute strength might mean the Leinster man is not the best fit.

James Ryan

Wood believes the current focus on Irish Lions is a foible he would rather not engage with.

"I don't play the nationality card when it comes to the Lions, the second that they meet up they are Lions. We used to often get asked about the Irish Lions, there is no such thing.

"It goes down again to the coach and you can disagree again with what the coach has or hasn't done, and you can think well of how someone is viewed or not viewed. I think James Ryan was absolutely stunning when he came on the scene - stunning.

"I think he is a pure quality player. I would have urged caution consistently on James Ryan, not to play 80 minutes or every game. He isn't a very large frame - he is a big man compared to people on the street but he is not a big, big man compared to those who will be going down to South Africa.

"I think he's got a bit bashed-up, I think he has played a huge amount of rugby by the age of 24. All of those games are of test quality - European knockout matches, huge games. He is playing the game as a ball-carrier, but I'm not sure he is the size or the power for a ball-carrier."

Be ready

This may have played into how both fans and coaches have come to perceive Ryan, and played a part in Thursday's selection.

"You want him to be the guy that wins every ruck, that clears out everything, wins every lineout, pushes like a tank. But I don't know that you necessarily want him to be an enforcer because that is the sort of player he is.

"For that reason alone, I think he was under an element of risk. I said two weeks ago that there was a doubt over him going for that reason and also because of the type of player that Gatland likes to have.

However, Wood believes that Ryan should not be looking at this as a summer off.

"There are always injuries, I think he should be taking the view 'If I get my chance then I take my chance.'


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