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'He was really, really excellent' | Charlie Ngatai didn't miss a beat | BRIAN O'DRISCOLL

The return of Charlie Ngatai after more than three months was a brave, but excellent call from the Leinster management, according to Brian O'Driscoll.



The return of Charlie Ngatai after more than three months was a brave, but excellent call from the Leinster management, according to Leinster legend Brian O'Driscoll.

The one-cap All Black started his first game since January 7th when Leinster hosted Toulouse in the Heineken Champions Cup semi final.

He was drafted in to replace the injured Garry Ringrose in the midfield. While being out of match-practice for over three months might negatively affect most players' performances, Ngatai was exceptional in Leinster's dismantling of the most successful European side.

Speaking on Off The Ball, Brian O'Driscoll praised the return of the New Zealander, in an all-round effort that was 'no frills'.

"I thought he was really, really excellent," O'Driscoll said. "He made very few errors. His ability to read off defenders, get good shots in, he made a really good turnover with a collision on [Peato] Mauvaka when they were pushing Leinster's line.

"His passing was excellent. His distribution, subtly of hand, ball carrying. For a guy who hadn't played in three-odd months, I thought he was top-class."

Ngatai was managed brilliantly by the coaches

While praise understandably went the way of the 32-year-old Ngatai, O'Driscoll also praised the way head coach Leo Cullen and assistant coach Stuart Lancaster managed his return and the impact that Ciaran Frawley had off the bench.

"It's so hard to get yourself up to match fitness irrespective of what you're doing," O'Driscoll said. "With the collisions and the intensity of games versus training, but it looked as though it was a seamless transition for him.

"It was also really good coaching by Stuart [Lancaster] and Leo [Cullen], getting him out of there after 50-55 minutes, when the body tires and that's when you pick up secondary injuries having just returned to play after an extended period out.

"I know the game was probably comfortable at that point, but to be able to bring [Ciaran] Frawley in, something slightly different, he might have been a bit disappointed not to have gotten the starting birth.

"I thought it was very good player management as well."

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