The France side visiting Dublin for Sunday's Six Nations are not only tournament favourites, but also in possession of some of the best young talent in world rugby.

Those emerging talents may be callow at Test level, but they bring a wealth of experience from the leading Top 14 clubs.

In contrast, while Ireland's conveyor belt remains strong in terms of producing players, the provincial system does bring some limitations in terms of providing adequate game-time for those emerging talents, according to Donal Lenihan.

Speaking on the RTÉ Rugby Podcast in light of a clamour from some quarters to call up Leinster's young out-half Harry Byrne amid injury and form concerns among Ireland's 10s, Lenihan drew a contrast between the Irish model and France's situation, while pointing out the need to allow some players to make temporary moves abroad to gain experience and spread the talent out.

"Has Harry Byrne played 10 games of Pro14? He was due to start his first Champions Cup game. That's a system fault in Ireland. But that goes back to the fact that we have only the four provinces. France have 14 teams playing in their league. Therefore the talent is spread out and they get those opportunities," he said, adding that France's 10s Matthieu Jalibert, Louis Carbonel and the currently injured Romain Ntamack already have upwards of 50 games played each in the Top 14 and Heineken Champions Cup.

Echoing Lenihan's statistical comparison, Bernard Jackman pointed out that the comparable lack of experience would not make Byrne a viable option to be parachuted straight into the Ireland reckoning.

"That's the flaw with our system. We have two 10s in the Irish set-up and one outside it who are playing in the same province and the third choice of those doesn't get to play many games whereas in France they are peppered all over those 14 clubs, those young players," he said.

Highlighting another example at Munster, Lenihan continued: "This is where four provinces is working against us. It was well reported that ROG [Ronan O'Gara] had made an approach to Jack Crowley to go to La Rochelle.

"For me, it would have been the ideal scenario if he went there for a year or two because [when Joey Carbery comes back] and you have Ben Healy, when is Jack Crowley going to get an opportunity to play?

"So therefore, with our blessing, maybe we should be sending him off to La Rochelle and he gets those Top 14 games that the likes of Ntamack and Jalibert got over the last number of years.

"You look at Scottish rugby and their performance at the weekend, it was the best performance I've seen out of Jonny Gray. Stuart Hogg, absolutely outstanding. I think Scotland have got the benefit out of the fact that those two players have gone to a different environment and into a winning culture in Exeter and over the course of six and 12 months, they have returned to Scotland better players and they have made Scotland a better team."

Lenihan added that he believes a rethink is needed on allowing young fringe talent to go abroad in order to accelerate their development rather than keeping them down the pecking order within the provincial system.

"Maybe we are too focused on the four provinces and players not getting the opportunity to play abroad," he said. 

"I think we're going to have to look at allowing these guys get more game-time by backing them in going abroad for a period of time when it is clear and obvious that they are not going to get game-time within their provinces. In the longer-term it will accelerate their development and give us a wider base from which to select."

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