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Eddie O'Sullivan Recalls Why He Gave Luke Fitzgerald His Ireland Debut So Young

Eddie O'Sullivan Recalls Why He Gave Luke Fitzgerald His Ireland Debut So Young
By PJ Browne
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Luke Fitzgerald today announced his retirement from rugby on medical advice.

The back suffered a neck injury during Leinster's PRO12 final loss to Connacht last month. Such was its nature, he has been advised to hang up his boots.

Fitzgerald, just 28, retires with after winning three European Cups with Leinster, a Grand Slam with Ireland in 2009 and a Six Nations title last year.

During his time with Ireland, he accumulated 34 caps. The first of those came in autumn 2006 against the Pacific Islands with Fitzgerald scoring a debut try in a 61-17 win for Ireland.

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Speaking on Newstalk's Off The Ball on Tuesday evening, Ireland manager at the time Eddie O'Sullivan explained why he gave Fitzgerald his debut at just 19 years of age.

It was a chance to get some new guys in. There were three new caps that day. There was Luke, Jamie Heaslip and Stephen Ferris.

He had this sort in innate football brain where he was reading the game before he got the ball, which is gold dust when it comes to line breaks. He combined that with what I thought was frightening acceleration. He had these unbelievable evasion skills. You couldn't tackle him in a phone booth.

Ireland exited last year's World Cup amid major disappointment. That was not due to lack of contribution from Fitzgerald. Against Argentina, he came off the bench to aid an Irish comeback attempt following a horrific start.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=38upQjuTMQA

O'Sullivan highlighted how recently Fitzgerald was still a potent weapon in the Irish arsenal.

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You played the clip there of his try against Argentina. He almost single-handedly turned that game on its head if you think about it. He scored that try from the halfway line without a hand being put on him; frightening pace and change of direction. An Argentinian never got near him. He made the line break for the second try that got Ireland back into that game. In that scenario he got through a game you wouldn't get a razorblade through. He just powered his way through it and broke the line. He had this combination of pace, acceleration and a fair bit of bravery as well.

He also lamented how early Fitzgerald's career has come to an end.

We haven't seen enough of him and we won't see him anymore. I think he's a huge loss to Leinster and Ireland.

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