Irish debutant Dominic Ryan spoke of the anticipation leading up to playing his first senior international as Ireland defeated Georgia 49-7.
Having played at U20s, Emerging Ireland and Wolfhounds level, Ryan is now cherishing his first senior cap.
“I was very nervous. It was like waking up on Christmas morning. It’s kinda like ‘today is the day’. I got butterflies. The anthems were fantastic and it was back into the rugby from there. (The first hit) is good. It’s good to get into the game. It took me a couple of minutes to get good contact but it was good.
“The big thing is the importance of cherishing each cap. It might sound cliched but they don’t come often. Talking to other guys in the team, like Darren Cave, he got his first cap in 2009. That was his eight cap today. They mightn’t come often and they might be years apart. It is a big day for me and (I’m) just cherishing the first cap really.”
Despite dominating possession in the opening half Ireland went in at the break 9-0 in front, thanks to three penalties from Ian Madigan. The last of which came on the stroke of half-time when Ireland stole a Georgian lineout and pressure at the breakdown forced the Georgians to give away the penalty.
Ryan himself went for the line in the first half but a knock-on put stop to the attack which the back-rower wasn’t pleased with. Ryan felt Ireland needed to play clever rugby with Georgia infringing in the ruck in the first half which led to the forward pack to “clean deep” at ruck time which led to the scores which set them up for victory in the second half.
“Maybe the first half didn’t go according to plan but we had a good chat at half-time, ironed out a few problems and everything went a lot better. The ref had to sort them out at the breakdown. A couple of infringements at the breakdown and the tackler wasn’t releasing. Between that and us getting our cleaning out better, we made the difference in the second half.
“We were very close in the first half. We felt we maybe should have crossed the line with one of our mauls. At half-time Simon had a word with us and said we’re close guys. Just little things. Our lifters weren’t strong enough or we didn’t brace hard enough the impact the Georgians were giving us. We just said we would go out with the aim to brace the force of the Georgians better and went over twice.”
Ryan was caught around the eye by the boot of Viktor Kolelishvili with the 24 year-old fortunate to avoid serious injury, while adding that he doubted it was intentional. Ryan admitted that the discipline from the players was exceptional while their response was the tries in the second half. While he said the pace of the game wasn’t the quickest that he hopes to experience in the future, the physicality of the game lived up to the billing.
“I doubt it was intentional to be honest, but it was a bit reckless. He (the referee) said he couldn’t go to the big screen, but that’s rugby. It was directly in my eye, but I don’t think it was intentional. It was a mistake. He was just coming through the ruck, so I can’t hold anything against him.
“We know, physical team and physical teams can often be a bit of arms thrown and little niggly things like that. We just made sure our discipline was good today. We didn’t get involved. It is a big thing that Joe (Schmidt) drives amongst the team is our discipline and just poker facing the opposition no matter what happens. The best way to react to that kind of behaviour is to score a try. That was our comeback.”
Cillian O Conchuir, Pundit Arena.