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Ronan O'Gara on the 'difficult conundrum' facing Ciaran Frawley

By Ian Cameron
Jonathan Sexton, right, and Ciaran Frawley of Ireland during the Steinlager Series match between the New Zealand and Ireland at the Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin, New Zealand. (Photo By Brendan Moran/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

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Ireland great Ronan O’Gara believes that Irish utility back Ciaran Frawley faces a difficult decision if he wants to pursue a Test career with Ireland as a flyhalf.

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Frawley – a relative newcomer to the Ireland set-up – shone for Andy Farrell’s side in their midweek games against the Maori All Blacks on their recent tour of New Zealand, leaving many to ponder whether or not he is a viable option in the position going forward.

While Joey Carbery is the heir apparent to Johnny Sexton, there’s a nagging feeling that Ireland’s fortunes are resting a little to heavily on the fitness of the ageing flyhalf. Barring an injury in the meantime, Sexton looks like a sure thing to be Ireland’s first choice in France next year, but question marks remain over who is the best option as his replacement.

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O’Gara, speaking on Off the Ball on Newstalk in Ireland, said he believes that Frawley is third choice in the current pecking order, but can’t see how he can become a viable option for Ireland at 10 when he still regularly plays 12 for Leinster on the domestic front.

“I think the pecking order remains the same. You have Johnny Sexton, Joey Carbery and then you’ve a decision about where Ciaran Frawley is going to play.

“If he wants the challenge to play international rugby at 10, he has to play [there] at his club. It’s too difficult at the top level to be a hybrid in that fact that if he’s playing all his club rugby at 12 for Leinster and hoping to play Test games for Ireland at 10.

“I would say that’s a bit of a long shot.”

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The problem for Frawley is that as well as the aforementioned Sexton, Leinster have significant depth at 10 with both Ross and Harry Byrne vying for the second fiddle.

“He would also be – from what I can see – from the outset, I think he’ll always puts his team first. Sometimes he needs to have a word with his coaches if wants to be considered to play at 10, but Leinster are extremely competitive at that position.

“It’s a difficult conundrum for him or others to sort.”

Ireland may see value in keeping Frawley as 12 who can cover 10, which gives Farrell the option of a 6-2 on the bench. The question for the 24-year-old Frawley – as Rog sees it – is whether or not he sees his future as Ireland’s next 10, or as an able second lieutenant.

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