Ireland call an easy decision for Lorcan Dow

Irish rugby was relatively slow to cotton onto the benefits accrued from assimilating players with southern hemisphere backgrounds into the national team, but that process has belatedly taken hold in recent years.

Ireland call an easy decision for Lorcan Dow

The 38-man squad Joe Schmidt named for the opening two rounds of this year’s Six Nations contains five players born and bred below the equator while another two have been extracted from roots in Britain.

The wonder is that the ratio isn’t inverted.

Well over half-a-million Irish live in Britain. The number when embracing those of Irish descent is markedly larger and yet Mike McCarthy and Kieran Marmion are the only players currently in the team camp in Kildare who hail from across the Irish Sea. It is no surprise given Irish players playing abroad have found it next to impossible to break into the senior squad. Even Geordan Murphy, who played 74 times for his country but was stationed in Leicester, called his autobiography ‘The Outsider’.

To play rugby FOR Ireland you are clearly better off playing your rugby IN Ireland. Lorcan Dow, who spent most of his childhood in London before moving to Belfast to take up a place in the Ulster Academy, knew that.

Dow starts at number eight for Nigel Carolan’s U20s against Italy tomorrow evening and, though there was interest from clubs in England, he decided aged 18 that his future lay in Ireland.

“You get a lot more exposure here,” said the Queens and Ulster forward. “Coaches are coming up and watching. They have eyes on us as opposed to just ears and the strength of provincial rugby here is massive.

“Ulster are one of the top clubs in Europe. Likewise Leinster and Munster, and Connacht are coming up now as well. Irish rugby is in a strong place so it was just an easy decision to make.”

Dow’s commitment to Ireland was never in doubt. London Irish’s base in Hazelwood was, to put it mildly, “a bit of a commute” from his base in the English capital but it was one undertaken without question.

Born in London, Dow spent six of his formative years in Dublin before moving back. His mum and dad, Anna and Joe, were actors.

The former trod the boards at The Abbey and The Gate theatres and the latter once appeared in ‘The Bill’ before turning to voiceover work.

Dow and his colleagues steps up to their own big stage this week.

“When you play U20s it is televised live and that’s probably the first time I will be in a televised game so it is huge to get picked at this level,” he explained. “It’s a huge honour to be recognised at this level, especially with the guys who have come before. Guys like Stuart Olding, Paddy Jackson and Iain Henderson in the last few years alone have gone on to full internationals honours.”

Dow is joined in a strong back row by Connacht’s Rory Moloney and Leinster’s Josh Murphy, but it is in the back line where most of the stardust is sprinkled. Captain and scrum-half Nick McCarthy is joined by out-half Ross Byrne. The duo were pivotal in securing fourth place in last year’s Junior World Cup under Mike Ruddock, as was Garry Ringrose who again lines out at inside-centre.

Kick-off at Stadio Pozzi Lamarmora is at 6pm Irish time.

IRELAND U20S (V ITALY): B Dardis (UCD/Leinster); G O’Shea (Shannon/Munster), G Ringrose (UCD/Leinster), F Cleary (Lansdowne/Leinster), J Owens (QUB/Ulster); R Byrne (UCD/Leinster), N McCarthy (UCD/Leinster); J Loughman (UCD/Leinster), Z McCall (QUB/Ulster), O Heffernan (Terenure/Leinster); D O’Connor (St Mary’s/Leinster), A Thompson (QUB/Ulster); J Moloney (UCD/Leinster), R Moloney (Buccaneers/Connacht), L Dow (QUB/Ulster).

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