James Ryan says Ireland’s players are eager to get their World Cup bid under way after a tough pre-season.

The Irish begin a four-game warm-up programme at home to Italy on Saturday.

“It’s my first time being in camp this long and it’s been the hardest pre-season I’ve had,” said Ryan, who has been named the Writers of Ireland men’s Player of the Year.

“We have done a lot of work and guys are itching to get going. There is a lot of nervous excitement about.”

Ryan’s award comes after a season when he cemented his reputation as one of the best second rows in the world.

Ireland lock James Ryan meets fans at Ireland's pre-season camp in Limerick

After a sensational rookie season in 2017-18 when he won a Grand Slam with Ireland as well as the Pro14 and Champions Cup double with Leinster, he delivered again for club and country in 2018-19.

After Italy, Ireland will play Wales twice and England once before travelling to Japan for the World Cup next month.

Ryan is not one of the players likely to be fretting over his inclusion in the 31-man squad, but says consistency of performance is important ahead of the biggest tournament of his life.

He said: “It is once in a lifetime opportunity to represent your country on a world stage but it’s where you want to be, isn’t it?

“We have four warm-up games before that and when you think about it that is four test matches, so there is a lot of to be played.

“It’s important that if you want to be on the plane you put in a committed and accurate performance.”


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