“The Nearest Thing To An Aaron Mauger” – Ronan O’Gara Surprised At Omission In Ireland Squad

Second playmaker.

Ireland trained in Portugal this morning as part of a warm-weather camp before next week’s crucial Six Nations opener with Wales at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin.

The men in green enjoyed a hugely successful Autumn Nations Series that saw them complete a clean sweep that included a famous win over the All Blacks, and they’ll be hoping for much of the same in the 2022 championship.

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Head coach Andy Farrell named a 37-man strong squad last week with only a couple of new additions. Ulster centre James Hume was rewarded for his fine form at provincial level with a spot ahead of Munster’s Chris Farrell, while James Lowry received similar treatment, edging out Simon Zebo who has played very little rugby in recent months.

But one man who Ronan O’Gara feels was unlucky to not get a call-up, is Leinster’s Ciaran Frawley who has been in fantastic form for the eastern province this season. The out-half, turned centre, is the nearest thing Ireland have to “an Aaron Mauger” according to O’Gara – and can consider himself unlucky to not be selected.

Mauger, who has 47 caps for the All Blacks, is widely regarded as one of the very best players to ever play in the second receiver or second playmaker role. And O’Gara reckons that’s an area that Frawley can improve for Ireland.

“It’s very competitive. You might think it is easy to pick 37 but another name jumping straight out at me is Ciaran Frawley, who didn’t make the squad. For me, he is probably the nearest thing to an Aaron Mauger we have on this side of the hemisphere,” O’Gara told Off The Ball

“He is so adept at playing either ten or twelve, that second receiver role. He looks so, so interesting as a player.

He has the physical attributes to play a direct game and then his feet are excellent, his passing game is excellent, his recognition of space is very, very good and he seems to be a threat every time he plays. For him not to be among the best 17 backs is probably incredibly disappointing for him.”