How Ireland’s James Ryan Views South Africa’s Eben Etzebeth

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How Ireland's James Ryan Views South Africa's Eben Etzebeth
Ireland's James Ryan (Credits: The Times)

Ireland’s vice-captain, James Ryan, wants to play a strong game against South Africa’s powerful team, especially Eben Etzebeth.

The big guy Etzebeth hurt his shoulder during South Africa’s first Rugby World Cup game against Scotland but is now ready for the important match in Paris this Saturday.

The 31-year-old star will have strong players on the bench, with more forwards than backs. Leinster second-row Ryan has a lot of respect for Etzebeth but is eager to play his best in the important match at Stade de France.

How Ireland's James Ryan Views South Africa's Eben Etzebeth
South Africa’s Eben Etzebeth (Credits: Planet Rugby)

“He is one of the best lock players in the world, no question about it,” said Ryan. “He is almost the perfect second-row player. He works hard, is excellent in set-piece plays, he defends well in line-outs, and he is someone who understands the game very well. He is an important player for their team.

“You should definitely respect them, but in big games, it is important to show your own strengths,” said Ryan. “Understand their skills and strengths, but pay attention to doing everything right yourself so you can perform well and make a good impression in the game.”

Ireland comfortably defeated Romania and Tonga by bonus points, extending their winning streak to 15 matches and setting themselves up to become world champions. Andy Farrell’s side have won 27 of their last 29 Tests, including victory over the Springboks in Dublin from November 19-16.

Ryan is ready for his biggest challenge yet in Ireland’s Pool B season and admits there will be more pressure and an added edge in the build-up game. “This is obviously a big step forward,” the 27-year-old said.

“They are the reigning world champions; we have a lot of respect for them, and we know we have to try again this week.”

“It will be a little extra pressure this week, but I’m really looking forward to it.

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“It’s very exciting to be playing against the world champions at the Stade de France in Paris during World Cup week and in front of 30,000 Irish fans in the stadium. It is a cool week to participate. “It is an added benefit throughout the week, but it is also a great opportunity.”

James Ryan Seems to Be the Successor to the Retiring Johnny Sexton
Johnny Sexton (Credits: Sky Sports)

Ryan will likely take over as Ireland captain, replacing Johnny Sexton, who retired after the French tournament. Fly-half Sexton started the competition in record-breaking form, becoming his country’s all-time leading scorer last weekend.

Ryan thinks the 38-year-old captain’s longevity is “pretty ridiculous.”

“He just shows up every week with the same competitive spirit, whether it’s the first game of the season, the URC game, or the World Cup finals,” Ryan said.

“He just wants to get better, and he wants everyone else to get better too. “He is a great leader, and having him there makes a big difference to the team.

“He’s kind of inspiring. He is 38 years old and still playing as a fly-half in the World Cup, and he’s doing it really well. Some people might tease me for saying this, but he has been fantastic,” said Ryan.


By Collins Abia

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