Force to be reckoned with: Waratahs prop Paddy Ryan. Photo: Anthony Johnson Paddy Ryan doesn’t like waiting, as he did for more than a year between playing his first and second Test.
Asked about the gains he made in last year’s Wallabies spring tour when he played off the bench to replace Sekope Kepu at tight head against Ireland in Dublin – one year and six days after his Test debut against France when he replaced loosehead prop Benn Robinson – Ryan, 25, produced a wry smile and said: “I wouldn’t say that I am particularly patient when it comes to that kind of stuff.
“I’m sure other blokes would feel the same. Everyone wants to start and get straight into it.
”But the fact is that when you are a front-rower some guys need a bit of time and exposure to that kind of stuff – training week in, week out in a Test environment, even if you are not in the team.”
At the Waratahs it is a different story, at least for their Super Rugby season opener on Sunday against the Western Force at Allianz Stadium. This time it’s not Ryan but Kepu who has been left out of the starting front row and will be waiting on Sunday for coach Michael Cheika’s call to come off the bench.
On Tuesday, Ryan was named as tighthead prop for the Waratahs’ starting front row with seasoned Wallabies loosehead Robinson, who has played 66 Tests, and hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau, a 46-Test veteran.
However, Kepu’s selection in the reserves still provides the Waratahs bench with valued Test experience with his 38 caps.
“We have four guys [for Sunday] who have played Tests … and three have played a lot of Tests,” said Ryan, who has 28 Super caps.
Add to that, says Ryan, the expected impact of NSW’s two other front-row reserves – newly recruited hooker Tola Latu and prop Jeremy Tilse – should they be called up from the bench to play.
Ryan knows that a strong performance on Sunday could help him secure that starting position.
“I want to start a few more games this year. I got five or six last year,” said Ryan, who can play both sides of the scrum. “I want to be a genuine starting front-rower at the Tahs. I can see since I’ve been here [that NSW has] a pretty strong front-row unit. It’s going to take a fair bit of work.”
But Ryan knows he could find himself back on the bench should he fail to deliver against the Force.
The Force’s front-rowers include Pek Cowan, Kieran Longbottom, Salesi Manu, Kiwi Tetera Faulkner, and South Africans Chris Heiberg and Francois van Wyk as props; and Nathan Charles, Heath Tessman and Robbie Abel as hookers.
Ryan expects a brutal upfront encounter on Sunday, against a side coached by former NSW coach Michael Foley.
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