Sweetnam set to face South Africa

Sweetnam set to face South Africa
Darren Sweetnam at Ireland training. Picture: INPHO/Billy Stickland

DUNMANWAY’S Darren Sweetnam is in line to make an appearance for Ireland against South Africa this weekend.

Joe Schmidt has backed up what he has said about West Cork’s Sweetnam’s form by putting him on the bench tomorrow afternoon in the Aviva Stadium.

Bundee Aki has been named in the starting side to make his debut tomorrow while Jacob Stockdale’s current form has also seen him named in Schmidt’s side.

Former Cork inter-county hurler Sweetnam has come a long way in a relatively short time with recent European Champions Cup and PRO14 games catching the coach’s eye. Schmidt is convinced the Munster winger, 24, is ready for the step up to Test rugby but that the Corkman needs some work on parts of his game.

“He seems a real calm, settled sort of guy. He doesn’t get ruffled,” said the coach.

“I think a lot of times when you make errors stepping up to the next level it’s more physical and you’ve got less time and space, so there’s more urgency to make decisions and you can be unsettled by that.

“He’s pretty calm, he’s got some good footwork, he knows where the try line is, he finishes well, he’s got some good defensive habits and some that we’ll keep working on.

“He’s a package that’s interesting and he’ll be looking to become a more complete package through these three weeks.”

Sweetnam call-up had fate playing its part due to a hamstring injury for his provincial team-mate Keith Earls that not only threatens the wing’s involvement in all three November Tests, but also Munster’s Champions Cup home and away battles with Leicester Tigers next month.

Earls, who had been in flying form since Ireland’s summer tour to the United States and Japan, picked up the injury in training on Tuesday, with another in-form Munster wing, Andrew Conway, moving onto the right wing for his fourth cap and Ulster’s Jacob Stockdale named by head coach Joe Schmidt on the left wing for the 21-year-old’s third start in green after a try-scoring debut against the US in June.

Meanwhile, Cork legend Ronan O’Gara has been linked with the assistant coaching role at New Zealand club Canterbury Crusaders.

A two-year contract has been mooted to tempt O’Gara away from Racing 92 in Paris and to come on with board under head coach Scott Robertson.

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