Rugby

Max Deegan a 'great all-round footballer' | Andy Farrell

Stephen Doyle
Stephen Doyle

18:31 4 Feb 2020


Ireland head coach Andy Farrell doesn't feel there is any risk in handing Max Deegan his debut in this weekend's Six Nations clash with Wales.

Opportunity knocks for the 23-year-old, who has been named on the bench after Peter O'Mahony was reinstated to the starting XV due to Caelan Doris' injury sustained in the win against Scotland.

The Leinster forward's favoured position is at number 8 but he can play anywhere across the back row and Farrell has been impressed watching Deegan in action.

"I think he's got all the attributes of a great back rower," said Farrell at today's team announcement.

"You go into the unknown a little bit with Test match rugby but we feel he's ready.

"His ball-playing ability, his spacial awareness coming onto the ball and using his footwork and he's got nice soft hands at the same time. He's got good leg drive in his carry.

"He's a great all-round footballer and we feel he's going to add another dimension, especially in attack when he comes off the bench."

Prop Cian Healy backed up Farrell's praise of Deegan's footwork.

"He's got an unbelievable party piece. Hopefully, he gets a shot and you get to see that," said Healy who refused to divulge any other information on what it could be.

"It’s a dance, that’s the height of it!"

Deegan's provincial team-mate is delighted to see him on the verge of making his international debut.

"He wouldn’t be put in if he wasn’t ready," added Healy.

"There’s a lot of lads in those positions that are pushing each other around looking for shots and they have all gotten to the place where they are vying for that, so it’s great to see him getting a shot."

Farrell also revealed that prop Dave Kilcoyne is still going through the return-to-play protocol after his head knock against Scotland.
Jack McGrath is on standby if Kilcoyne has to pull out, while Will Addison's calf muscle issue is keeping him out of the reckoning.

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