Kidney Shows Capacity for Surprise

We did not see it coming.  Tomás O’Leary, the blue-eyed boy, coached by Uncle Deccie since he was a schoolboy, given every chance – every chance – to play himself into any kind of form, is not going to the World Cup. Nor is fellow 2009 Grand Slammer and test Lion Luke Fitzgerald. The perils of trying to second guess Deccie are there for all to see. Just when you think you have him read, he pulls a huge surprise out of the bag, and backs it up with impenetrable nonsense at the press conference.

First of all, credit where it’s due. They are two seismic calls, and both are correct.  Tomás O’Leary played like a broken footballer on Sturday, to the point where he was simply a liability.  He needs to go back to Munster and start again from scratch – you find form against the Dragons and Glasgow’s of this world, not against France. In his place comes Conor Murray, a superb ball player who can travel, not just as back up, but as Ireland’s premier 9 – the tournament is now his oyster.

Luke Fitzgerald’s situation is more complicated.  He showed some sparkle in the warm up games, not least with two dashing breaks against France (he certainly outplayed Keith Earls). But dedicated full-back cover for Rob Kearney is essential, so Murphy simply had to go – although in a remarkable twist, he is only going due to this (we almost cried ourselves seeing his face). Fergus McFadden also merits his place on the plane, even if we didn’t see much of him over the last few weeks. He provides invaluable cover at centre as well as on the wing. Plus, you know what you’ll get from him, something that cannot be said for Fitzgerald in his current state. Then there’s Trimble, who is on fire. Luke just got squeezed out, and Earls may have been closer to the chop than anyone ever thought. Lets leave it at this – all of the backs on the plane have had better seasons than Luke, so on that basis, he deserves to be at home.

Elsewhere, Buckle edged out Hayes in the cripple-fight for the chance to get shunted around by the Russian pack, and Leamy and Ryan, as expected, swelled the ranks of touring blindsides, now a regular feature of Irish World Cups. We must accept that Jennings didn’t do enough when given his chance, and although McLaughlin deserved a better shot, he would not rectify the imbalance of the squad. Ryan’s selection is as a 4/6, which becomes interesting/superfluous when one reads of Fez training in the second row (and by Lord, how we need power there).

We are of the opinion that the three loss streak has played a part in this. Ireland sleepwalked through 50 minutes on Saturday, and it’s entirely possible Deccie’s intention is, at least to some extent, to light a fire under the players and jolt them into action. He’s certainly done that to us anyway – even if we predicted it. Kind of.

Anyway, hats off to the 30 going – your names are in lights below.  Fush and chups all round (2 fush for Mushy).

Ireland Rugby World Cup Squad 2011

Rory Best (Banbridge/Ulster)
Isaac Boss (Terenure College/Leinster)
Tommy Bowe (Ospreys)
Tony Buckley (Sale Sharks)
Tom Court (Malone/Ulster)
Sean Cronin (Leinster)
Leo Cullen (Blackrock College/Leinster)
Gordon D’Arcy (Lansdowne/Leinster)
Keith Earls (Young Munster/Munster)
Stephen Ferris (Dungannon/Ulster)
Jerry Flannery (Shannon/Munster)
Cian Healy (Clontarf/Leinster)
Jamie Heaslip (Naas/Leinster)
Rob Kearney (UCD/Leinster)
Denis Leamy (Cork Constitution/Munster)
Fergus McFadden (Old Belvedere/Leinster)
Geordan Murphy (Leicester Tigers)
Conor Murray (Garryowen/Munster)
Sean O’Brien (Clontarf/Leinster)
Donncha O’Callaghan (Cork Constitution/Munster)
Paul O’Connell (Young Munster/Munster)
Brian O’Driscoll (UCD/Leinster) Captain
Ronan O’Gara (Cork Constitution/Munster)
Eoin Reddan (Lansdowne/Leinster)
Mike Ross (Clontarf/Leinster)
Donnacha Ryan (Shannon/Munster)
Jonathan Sexton (St. Mary’s College/Leinster)
Andrew Trimble (Ballymena/Ulster)
Paddy Wallace (Ballymena/Ulster)
David Wallace (Garryowen/Munster)



  1. Hmm….selection on form….I dunno, sometimes its a bit like when you're having a kickabout in the garden and losing 12 nil so you say:- next score wins lads.I want to be supportive of those who are picked, but a lingering feeling persists that (although not currently playing better) Fitzgerald is a better player than Trimble or Earls. Certainly he is better than Wallace or McFadden and the double dunder of selecting two so alike players took me utterly by surprise. The world cup would have been graced by Fitzgerald I would argue.Is this another case of trying to avoid at all costs the sins of 2007? Or perhaps Deccie is showing how he is prepared to be ruthless to old friends (Hayes, Horan, Stringer, O'Leary, Fitzgerald). It must have been brutally hard to deliver that news as well as obviously being devestating to the players. I have huge time for Kidney and hopefully he is simply calling it as he sees it and not pandering to what the masses want him to be. I personally particularly would've taken Jennings, Fitzgerald and O'Leary. I would also have taken Hayes but see merut in Liam Toland's argument that the group stages shouldn't be too taxing on the front row and a fifth prop isn't needed. No matter who you select it is cruel whoever you leave out. Brutally so.

  2. Re Fitzy, he has definitely got more natural talent tha, say, Trimble, but talent isn't everything – look at Pat McCabe taking Matt Giteau's spot in the Wallaby team – application and form have to be considered. I think this will either make or break Fitzgerald – in a sense, he has had it easy so far – from when he was 18, he hasn't had to battle through adversity. Joe Schimdt bottled the decision Deccie made today – who would have thunk it!Luke needs to do 2 things – accept he didn't deserve his place, and work on the aspects of his game he can improve; and decide on a position – he thinks he is a full back, and a player is unlikely to give 100% to one position (wing) if he sees himself playing another. Trimble discovered this – he gave up the Ulster 13 shirt and concentrated on wing 2 years ago – and the reward is there to be seen.Re Tomás – its sad really – he has been under so much pressure since he returned from his pre-Lions injury, and has worked incredibly hard – but the speed of thought and execution he showed in mid-2009 has utterly deserted him. He needs a season of ML(RDP12?) graft to discover it. Both he and Deccie (and Ireland) will benefit from a temporary seperation.The wrench Deccie must have felt – this is a man who Deccie has moulded, and brough forward to every level – to have to make this decision takes serious ice in the blood. And the biggest irony of all is that Deccie has only been as ruthless once before – in 2008 when he dropped Strings for the HEC quarter final …. for O'Leary.

  3. Don'e for get – Luke is only 23!

  4. In contrast to my comment a few days ago feeling a little bit more upbeat! At last we seem to have finally picked a squad on form (mostly). The minor grumbles I have are regarding players that will probably only play against Russia. All we need now is a definitive gameplan and a step up from all the leaders in our squad. Hopefully players wont be on edge and trying to hard as we have seen at times in the warm up games to date. I actually fancy us to beat England this weekend as they seem to have less of a gameplan than we do! Sexton should now be getting quicker ball from the scrum half which should enable him that extra second to set the backs free a la England in March. We have more impact from the bench than in the 6 nations and hopefully Tommy Bowe can show the other outside backs how to run hard lines off the players in possession. Overall a step forward in selection, now lets see a gameplan!

  5. Hi JSRF – yes, the swuad has given us a real shot in the arm. Sure, we've quibbles with the make up of the backrow but the major calls look right. Plus, it surely sends out a positive message to the squad.I guess Deccie is like the teacher in school who never had to give out. He saves his ire for select occasions and as a result it makes you suddenly sit up and take notice when he finally cuts loose! Hopefully this will galvanise the squad and make them realise nobody is beyond being dropped.It's a new dawn, it's a new day…

  6. Yeah EC totally agree all players not selected have to accept they got chances and did not make it impossible not to be picked, in the way that say Trimble did. He truly earned his place over these games and I have to say so probably too did Pwal. A player's pride is unlikely to ever allow him to admit he doesn't deserve a place but it is enough to say you didn't make an unequivocal case. Anyway it is time to move on.The positive I see from all this is that the dynamic around the squad will have changed and more players now have something to prove. It is up to the 30 who have been shown the faith to justify it in NZ and please god they do.A negative could be that we are more likely to struggle this week. Its a lot to expect given Murray and/or Boss will need game time to get into new partnerships, Murphy and/or Kearney will need more game time at fullback to get up to speed, so too Bowe, Ferris, Flannery, Wallace, Darce and I presume/hope Healy will be rested. We are still trying to get the thing going and England may be slightly further down that road at the minute, though they aren't exactly setting the world on fire either. One thing for sure – every one of these games were needed, Deccie got that spot on.On a seperate note what about a best team from players not selected for the world cup (doesn't count injured). Off top of my head I've picked a backline of: Poitrenaud, Sivivatu, Gear, Jauzion, Fitzgerald, Giteau, (and either of the Munster scrum halves!)

  7. A nice idea alright. Marconnet and Domingo would be propping for sure! The fact that France could dispose of two world class props underlies their incredible depth. They could be dark horses if they can keep their heads.

  8. I'm gonna spread out the nationalities and say Strauss for hooker, with Britz on the bench. Nili Latu (for the weird story of how he was in then out of the Tongan squad) at blindside, Martyn Williams at openside (with Jennings on the pine) and Beattie at 8. I will defer to your superior knowledge of the super rugby nonsense if you think of anyone from there. No locks spring to mind just now.

  9. Did Andries Bekker make the Bok squad? If not, him.Or Biiiiig Bob Casey?

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