Paul O'Connell can be James Ryan's encyclopedia to bring out best in future captain

Before last year’s Six Nations, Brian O’Driscoll wondered whether Ireland have “that ‘thug’ within the team that you want to throw their weight around a little bit and set out a few markers… We don’t have it in the second-row.

It will make for an interesting watch to see how he improves the likes of Henderson, Tadhg Beirne, Quinn Roux, Ultan Dillane et al.

But the success of O’Connell as forwards coach could also be solely viewed through the prism of Ryan’s growth as a lock, line-out caller, pack leader and captain-in-waiting.

Ryan has done pretty well for himself up until now with a Grand Slam, Heineken Cup winners medal, when working under Schmidt, Simon Easterby, Leo Cullen and Stuart Lancaster.

We’ve heard it said that Ryan isn’t a big talker, but that doesn’t mean that side of his personality can’t be continuously encouraged, as I’m sure they are doing and also at Leinster.

Who knows if a Lions tour will take place this year but Ryan will be tested by the domineering personalities of Itoje and, tomorrow, Alun Wyn Jones, in Cardiff.

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