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Thursday 20 September 2018

Frawley starting to take off as Blues are grounded

Versatile: Ciarán Frawley
Versatile: Ciarán Frawley

The winter wipe-out of PRO14 League fixtures everywhere, except for Connacht in South Africa, will allow Ciarán Frawley a pause for thought.

The man from Skerries is not typical of Leinster's professional rugby player.

The 21-year-old likes nothing better than to escape the pressurised environment by making his way to his uncle Gerard's farm in Kilmaley, hurling country, 12 kilometres outside of Ennis.

While many of Leinster's players took advantage of a week off to relax during November, Frawley made his way to the west coast.

"It is a cool way to pass time. It is different. And you spend time with your family," he said.

When he returned to Dublin, it wasn't to a house of Leinster's good and great, but to the five girls with which the arts student shares accommodation out in UCD.

Like Jamie Heaslip, there is a part of Frawley that likes to get away from the game he loves to play.

Difficult

That could become more difficult given the excellence of his debut off the bench against Scarlets two weeks ago in the PRO14 League and the composure of his full debut against Southern Kings last Friday.

The out-half has been spending a lot of his rugby time at inside centre recently before Jonathan Sexton and Joey Carbery's international exit and injuries to Ross Byrne and Cathal Marsh created an opening.

Frawley could just be the right man in the right place.

The 6'3" specimen offers that second distributor and kicking option on the shoulder of the out-half.

The decision of former Ireland U20 coach Nigel Carolan to insert Frawley at inside centre at the beginning of the 2017 Six Nations was a departure that could become permanent.

"Nigel had Bill Johnston and Johnny McPhillips for out-half and he decided to put me in at 12 against Scotland in the first match.

"It was the first time I played there at a high level. It wasn't perfect," he said.

"But it was just good enough to keep doing it and I got better at it."

The move from 10 to 12 is similar to that made by Noel Reid. It definitely increases the chances of Frawley playing more games when he can operate well in two positions.

"It is positive being versatile," he said.

"But, in the long-term, you don't want to be moving around.

"You want to find a position and grow into it. You want to specialise."

The form Frawley has shown in the last two weeks at centre and fly-half speaks to his adaptability. Leinster could be one big away win from sealing their number one seed in Conference B of the PRO14 League.

At the moment, they have just three points to spare over the Scarlets for the trip rescheduled for later this month.

PRO14 FIXTURES

LEINSTER: v Scarlets (a); v Ospreys (a); v Zebre (h); Benetton (h); Connacht (a).

SCARLETS: v Leinster (h); v Munster (a); v Glasgow (h); v Edinburgh (a); v Dragons (a).

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