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Five-star Fitz is in form to light up Six Nations - Boss

LUKE FITZGERALD could just come like 'a bolt from the blue' of Leinster to be Ireland-ready for the Six Nations and, from there - who knows - to become a two-time British and Irish Lion.

The official man of the match award against the Scarlets lit up the face of the Greystones man, following a career-threatening neck operation that has left a scar on that part of his body, a reminder of how fleeting this career can be.

The 25-year-old certainly has the backing of his team-mate Isaac Boss: "He has been playing really well, looking really well at training since he got the all clear.

"He played well. He was involved a lot. I know he is just happy to be out there, being a part of it," said the Ireland scrum-half.

Boss is convinced that Fitzgerald is "definitely" back in the sort of form that will make him an Ireland contender for the Six Nations.

"It always takes a couple of games coming back from injury to get in the groove. He has got two under his belt. Hopefully, he can push on now."

The twinkle-toed footwork was there. The late change of direction onto the ball, the security in the air and the crisp, sharp tackling were all intact.

This is not to ignore the fact that Fitzgerald went absent without leave for Liam Williams' last-minute try at the end of the first half.

It was down to an uncharacteristic rush infield when he was taken in by centre Scott Williams' deceptive fake-to-pass before he found the unmarked Williams in the corner.

Awareness

The game awareness in defence will come in double-quick time once his coach Joe Schmidt has pointed out the error of his ways.

Fitzgerald won't need to be told.

The fallout from his protracted contract negotiations with the IRFU ended with a single Leinster salary dangled in front of a player in need of rehabilitation at the time.

Here is a man with all the motivation in the world to force the union's hand by the sole virtue of what he can do on the field rather than what his agent wanted done off it.

It is understandable that he felt "quite emotional" as he made his way onto the RDS and he was generous in his praise of the Leinster and IRFU medical staff because "they stuck with" him.

At present, he will stay a Leinster player to the end of his single season contract. From there, the suitors will be lined up around the corner if he holds his form and fitness.

Fitzgerald is a precious talent with his best years ahead of him. Leinster know that. The IRFU have to know it too.