Easterby backs 'animal' Dillane to make Ireland impact


Ireland forwards coach Simon Easterby believes "physical animal" Ultan Dillane has the right attributes to be a success at international level as the lock prepares to make his debut against England.

Connacht second row Dillane looks set to be named among the replacements for the Six Nations clash between the holders and Eddie Jones' men at Twickenham on Saturday.

Donnacha Ryan is expected to start after Mike McCarthy was ruled out due to concussion, with Dillane seemingly poised to be named on the bench.

Easterby has seen and heard enough of 22-year-old Dillane to think he could a big asset for Ireland.

"Ultan's been excellent, we've kept pretty close tabs on him since the World Cup," said Easterby.

"And he's done very well, speaking to Jimmy Duffy and Pat Lam at Connacht, they've been really happy with his progression.

"He's a pretty physical animal, if you've seen him tackle. He hits rucks, he scrummages well, he's very powerful in the gym. He's the sort of player that if we can hone his skills and hone his game awareness at this level then he's going to have a bright future.

"Like anyone coming in new, they are always going to have a bedding-in period. But to a man, players in that position have all contributed and now look comfortable in the environment.

"That's testament to the work they've put in and hopefully they will get some opportunity."

Ireland have drawn with Wales and lost to France to open their defence of the Six Nations title.