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Andy Farrell talks up potential of Ireland’s four Ulster debutants ahead of USA clash

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Robert Baloucoune is one of the Ulster players set to take his international bow tonight. Pic: INPHO/Ryan Byrne

Robert Baloucoune is one of the Ulster players set to take his international bow tonight. Pic: INPHO/Ryan Byrne

©INPHO/Ryan Byrne

Andy Farrell. Credit: INPHO/Ryan Byrne

Andy Farrell. Credit: INPHO/Ryan Byrne

©INPHO/Ryan Byrne

Robert Baloucoune. Credit: INPHO/Ryan Byrne

Robert Baloucoune. Credit: INPHO/Ryan Byrne

©INPHO/Ryan Byrne

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Robert Baloucoune is one of the Ulster players set to take his international bow tonight. Pic: INPHO/Ryan Byrne

Having been impressed with the training efforts of his four uncapped Ulstermen, Andy Farrell is eagerly anticipating seeing how they get on in action against the USA in the Aviva Stadium this evening. 

Tom O’Toole and Robert Baloucoune have been around the national camp before without ever getting a run in a Test, while the past fortnight has afforded the head coach his first up-close look at James Hume and Nick Timoney.

“I’m very excited to see how they go,” said Farrell ahead of the final game of Ireland’s packed season.

“They’ve trained well and settled in well after a couple of weeks and are ready to take their opportunity.

“We all know about Rob, he’s super quick. He’d be the quickest in the squad, that’s for sure.

“His rugby knowledge is coming along all the time, he’s learning more and more every time he takes the field, never mind at this level.

“But certainly in the province as well, his defence has really come on, his high ball stuff is really good, he’s finding a way of getting involved in the attack as well. The potential is there for him so we’re super excited about that.

“I’ve been really impressed with James having not worked with him before.

“He came in on the back of Garry Ringrose getting injured and it’s been great to work with him.

“He’s a big strong lad, he plays close to the line and he’s really hard to handle. His appetite and his work rate is great but his skill level is good as well.

“He has been working hard on his communication and his distribution skills as well, and they are both getting better.”

Teaming up with Gavin Coombes and Caelan Doris, Timoney’s presence ensures an intriguing back-row trio while perhaps the most eagerly anticipated cap among the new players will be Tom O’Toole’s given the tight-head prop has been involved since Farrell’s very first camp without yet seeing the field.

“We’ve been super impressed with how Nick has developed in the last two and a half weeks in training,” Farrell added. “He’s a bright kid who gets the details straight away, he’s fitted in, he understands things, how we want to play, and he’s explosive.

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“He’s quick, he’s dynamic, he’s a good ball carrier and he’s certainly a good defender and good over the ball as well.

“Tom O’Toole has been in with us for two years and he’s come on a treat and he deserves his chance.”


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