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Paul O’Connell ‘confident’ Ireland captain’s understudies can shine at highest level

Ireland forwards coach Paul O’Connell says he is confident Johnny Sexton’s fly-half understudies can shine if called upon in the Rugby World Cup.

Sexton’s suspension for this month’s warm-up matches has given Ross Byrne, Jack Crowley and Ciaran Frawley the opportunity to prove their worth.

The trio have just 22 caps between them but O’Connell insists they are ready to take on the biggest stage.

“I’d be confident in all of them,” said O’Connell.

Paul O’Connell ‘confident’ Ireland captain’s understudies can shine at highest level

“One of the strengths we have is that we’ve good clarity on how we’re trying to play the game and the players have to take ownership of that clarity quite a lot.

“You do figure out a guy that’s unsure very, very quickly. But all of our guys know how we want to play.”

While Leinster’s Byrne, 28, has deputised capably for Sexton in the past, 23-year-old Munster out-half Crowley has just three Ireland caps with Byrne’s provincial team-mate Frawley yet to line out at this level.

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