Ireland 2008 Six Nations Squad Named – Easterby Omitted!

Question: Were you in New Zealand in September/October?

If the answer is yes, you can expect to be in Deccie’s core Six Nations squad, announced this lunchtime. If not, forget it. You could sum up the changes to the RWC 22 in one line: BOD is injured, so bring in Paddy Wallace and Ferg.
But as usual with all things Deccie (and don’t say we didn’t warn you!) the whole picture can be hard to see. There’s a 24-man squad, with six ‘additional players’ (translation: tackle-bag holders) who will train for the first week, and a 23-man Wolfhounds squad. There’s likely to be movement from one to the other, and you can’t hang your hat on a clear pecking order. Once the Wolfhounds game is out of the way, expect the six bag holders to make their way and six fresh young Wolfhounds to make their way up to the senior squad, but will they really and truly be in contention? Or will they simply be taking over the bag-holding. Therein lies the crux.
All said and done, this is yet another regressive squad from Deccie. Leo Cullen, Shane Jennings (a player Deccie never even fancied) and our dear friend Donncha are still in the 24 – leaving aside the fact it was announced Leo requires surgery this morning (Just what was the point in naming him in the squad?).  Cullen was just about international class at his peak, which is long past, and all three have been outperformed at provincial level. Paddy Wallace makes the cut despite playing just once (admittedly playing well) since returning from injury.
The worst case scenario here is that Deccie has decided on his matchday 22 already, with precious little of it based on this season’s form. How else to explain the presence of – you know it’s coming – Munster reserve lock Donncha O’Callaghan ahead of the marauding Dan Tuohy. If this does prove to be the pecking order, expect us to be very cross indeed. The more optimistic outcome (probably too optimistic) is that Deccie wants to see how the likes of Tuohy and maybe McCarthy or McLaughlin perform with the Wolfhounds before giving them their head at test level. But we won’t be holding our breath.
The Wolfhounds side itself isn’t that inspiring. The explosive Paul Marshall will have to content himself with playing for Ulster while Slow Hands gets another chance, despite showing no spark of form whatsoever. Anyone with eyes on their head could see Marshall is a better player. Isaac Boss, 31, is also selected – what more do we stand to learn about him?
We have just started a new RWC cycle, and Ireland have made zero unenforced changes, to a team which wasn’t exactly in the first flush of youth to begin with. We’re not calling for Lievremont-style experimentation, but we’d have thought this marked a line in the sand for older fringe players, and a time to bring in some new blood. Now, things might change through the tournament, but Deccie has given an early signal to the young tyros of Ireland that they will have to wait in the queue while their seniors play out their dotage. We can only be thankful that Darren Cave didn’t have to feel the disappointment of being left out.
Full squad(s):

Ireland Training Squad

Rory Best (Banbridge – Ulster)
Tommy Bowe (Ospreys)
Tom Court (Malone – Ulster)
Sean Cronin (St.Mary’s College – Leinster)
Leo Cullen (Blackrock College – Leinster)
Gordon D’Arcy (Lansdowne – Leinster)
Keith Earls (Young Munster – Munster)
Stephen Ferris (Dungannon – Ulster)
Cian Healy (Clontarf – Leinster)
Jamie Heaslip (Naas – Leinster)
Shane Jennings (St.Mary’s College – Leinster)
Rob Kearney (UCD – Leinster)
Fergus McFadden (Old Belvedere – Leinster)
Conor Murray (Garryowen – Munster)
Sean O’Brien (Clontarf – Leinster)
Donncha O’Callaghan (Cork Constitution – Munster)
Paul O’Connell (Young Munster – Munster)
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)
Additional Players
Ian Nagle (Cork Constitution – Munster)*
Peter O’Mahony (Cork Constitution – Munster)*
Tiernan O’Halloran (Galwegians – Connacht)*
Paddy McAllister (Ballynahinch – Ulster)*
Andrew Conway (Blackrock College – Leinster)*
Simon Zebo (Cork Constitution – Munster)*

Wolfhounds

Stephen Archer (Cork Constitution – Munster)*
Isaac Boss (Terenure College – Leinster)
Gavin Duffy (Galwegians – Connacht)
Luke Fitzgerald (Blackrock College – Leinster)
Chris Henry (Belfast Harlequins – Ulster)
Denis Hurley (Cork Constitution – Munster)
David Kearney (Lansdowne – Leinster)*
Ian Keatley (Young Munster – Munster)
Ronan Loughney (Buccaneers – Connacht)*
Ian Madigan (Blackrock College – Leinster)*
Mike McCarthy (Buccaneers – Connacht)
Kevin McLaughlin (St.Mary’s College – Leinster)
John Muldoon (Galwegians – Connacht)
Tomas O’Leary (Dolphin – Munster)
Eoin O’Malley (Old Belvedere – Leinster)*
Rhys Ruddock (St.Mary’s College – Leinster)
Mike Sherry (Garryowen – Munster)*
Nevin Spence (Ballynahinch – Ulster)*
Devin Toner (Lansdowne – Leinster)
Dan Touhy (Ballymena – Ulster)
Damien Varley (Garryowen – Munster)
Brett Wilkinson (Galwegians – Connacht)*

Not considered due to injury:
Brian O’Driscoll, David Wallace, Darren Cave, Felix Jones, Jerry Flannery, Eoin Griffen*, Denis Leamy, Niall Ronan.
N.B. * denotes uncapped player

 
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15 Comments

  1. The fan based pessimism in the run up to this squad announcement had got so extreme I assumed Deccie couldn't help but exceed expectations. W-rowng! I'll climb back in my box.Oh wait, no I won't, I'll watch the HEC this weekend and have a higher standard of rugby than the 6N anyway.

  2. 'Tis dispiriting stuff, Xyz, but keep your outrage on hold until the first team announcement. I expect we'll see the likes of Fitzy, Varley, Boss, one of Tuohy and Toner, a backrow and a prop called up to the main squad after the Wolfhounds game, and hopefully they'll be given a fair crack of the whip. However, it would have sent out a positive message to everyone to draft exciting, in-form players like Tuohy and O'Mahony into the senior squad. Fitzgerald's form also deserved to be rewarded.Oh, and amid all the furore it's just dawned on me that Mushy is finally, finally cut. Small mercies and all that.

  3. I can't believe he left out Luke Fitzgerald out of the main squad on current form. Incredible.

  4. I'll state the bleedin obvious by pointing out that these are training squads and between them they contain pretty much every standing (and one not standing)rugby player on this island. The point of these squads is to get EVERYBODY together. There are some senior players that probably aren't up to this level anymore but this is about getting all our players in one place for a few weeks. Players like DO'C, Jennings and Wallace need to be involved but there would be no point in sticking them into the Wolfhounds squad.It seems to me too early to be making any predictions or pronouncements about what's going to happen until the A match at least.I understand the frustration over Paul Marshall's exclusion but scrum-half is a position where Ireland is particularly well served.On a related topic, I noted the outrage shown by many people on Twitter today regarding this squad announcement. It was overblown, disproportionate and hysterical to a provisional squad. I saw a tweet that even went so far as to call for Kidney's head. Coming before a ball has been kicked in the Six Nations and just four months after Ireland's most successful Rugby World Cup ever (albeit with a disappointing ending)it was distasteful. I hope this kind of reactionary bullshit we see so much in other sports isn't going to become the norm in rugby.

  5. @DramaticIntro thanks for that comment, that's pretty constructive stuff. As we said above, the picture is still hard to see and you get the impression Kidney sees these announcements as challenges to give away as little as possible! When he promotes some players to the Wolfhounds squad things will become a bit clearer.However, I would have thought it was time to move the likes of Cullen, Jennings and Wallace on altogether (never mind putting them in a Wolfhounds squad). I'm not sure how much they have to offer at this level any more, and it would have sent out a positive message to see the likes of Tuohy, O'Mahony and Fitzgerald included in the senior squad in their place.With Kidney we know how loyal he can be, so when a squad like this comes out there's a tendency to presume he's simply going to pick from the 24 he's named. Hopefully it won't be the case!

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  7. Dramaticintro,I get the stuff about it being a training squad and us not being short of 9s. But O'Leary ahead of Marshall. Has Deccie been watching any rugby? And hopefully O'Mahony won't just be holding tackle bags and pretending to be Sam Warburton. He's a class act who can cover right across the back row. He should be in the match day 22. As should Toner, much though I admire and appreciate DOC, you've got to reward those who stick their hand up – no one has stuck theirs higher than Toner (sorry!)

  8. Unknown,I really understand the frustration that Marshall isn't in the Wolfhounds but beyond that,are there really that many contentious calls? We have decent strength in depth but for the most part but the Irish team still pretty much picks itself. In position where calls are close, neither option substantially weakens or strengthens us.I spose we're suffering for missing a step this season. Without Autumn Internationals there has been no opportunity to bring guys who've done well in the HCup into the team and get them caps before the Six Nations. Making the step up to Test rugby is one thing but having to do it in competition is a big ask.I'm a huge fan of O'Mahony. He's a been a shining light in a tough time for Munster but putting a 21 year old uncapped player straight into the Six Nations just feels like we're getting ahead of ourselves.I would venture that one player has put his hand up higher than Toner (and he's prob the only guy with a chance of doing so!). Donnacha Ryan has had a fantastic season so far and I wouldn't be surprised if he's starting against Wales.The hysteria continues unabated though. There is more than a few comments on Planet Rugby and on Tom Fox's Setanta column hoping that Ireland do badly in the Six Nations so that Declan Kidney losses his job. Sickening! I didn't realise there were so many Blackburn supporters in Ireland.

  9. Thanks for posting guys, plenty of good points raised, and a good debate in general. @Unknown – just on Devin Toner, I don't think he and Paulie are likely to play together. Both are very much 5's, in that they're lanky middle of the lineout jumpers. You typically need one of these and one more lumpy front jumping 4 who can put his shoulder to the tighthead's arse and push hard! I think Ryan, DOC and Tuohy are competing for the 4 jersey. If POC got injured (heaven forefend) then Toner would likely get drafted straight into the team as none of the others can play 5.@DramaticIntro – I don't think we're at all at the stage where the team picks itself, not by a long way. And I think it's fair enough for people to want to see that in-form players are being rewarded, and can be confident that the team is not a closed shop you've to play yourself out of. I'd share your opinion that we need to wait and see the first teamsheet before judging, and of course, we have equally little time for the madsers on various fora hoping for Ireland to do badly out of spite.But… if the team does consist of only players from the 24 in the initial squad, I'll be pretty annoyed. Let's get specific…You mention Peter O'Mahony – why can't he step up to 6N level this season? I presume we agree the starting backrow will (rightly) be Sean, Jamie and Fez, but no standout exists for the 19 jersey. Is Shane Jennings really that much better an alternative? He's never been a big presence at international level before. By contrast, Sam Warburton was made captain of Wales at 22. Toby Felatau was thrown into a World Cup barely out of his teens. Look how the Welsh team responded to the freshening up. As a nation, we are way too conservative in introducing new players.I think the elevation of the likes of O'Mahony, Fitzgerald and Tuohy straight to the senior squad would have sent out a message that if you're playing well, you're in the picture – that can only be good for the whole. Perhaps it will ultimately be the case, but as we say, we're not holding our breath.

  10. A question that might be appropriate is “What would Robbie Deans do”. He was faced with a similar (ish) challenge after the last world cup. The Wallabies need revitalising and Deans came in to do that. First order of business for Deans – cap James O’Connor. A 17 year old who had the ability to play international rugby. A good comparison would be Andrew Conway. He has set the Junior stage alight with his skills, hasn’t got much exposure at the top club level, but do we back his talent? Of course not! Obviously Conway is an extreme example but Ireland rarely back talent waiting for players to play themselves out of the team. My WWRDD team for the 6 Nations would be:Healy, Best, Ross, Tuohy, POC, Ferris, SOB, Heaslip, Reddan, Sexton, Earls, McFadden, EOM, Bowe, KearneyThere would be a thanks but no thanks to DOC. Sexton would be publicly backed as no 1 out half and ROG would be reduced to a peripheral status, break glass in emergency type fly half if you will. Significant game time would be given to Cronin, Ryan, POM. Madigan would get 20 minutes versus Italy. I am sure that my point is coming across now, but alas that isn’t the world we live in and revolution nor evolution seem to be the name of the game for Ireland.

  11. I think we have been chasing our tail a little in terms of selection since the Autumn Internationals last year.We went over to NZ and Oz completely decimated by injuries and were forced to introduce quite a few newbies to Test rugby … and most of them swam. However, come November, we ignored the newbies, and SOB and Mike Ross, to pick the same old same old.You could easily argue the established 22 beat Australia and got to a RWC quarter-final, but just as easily point out that, for all that experience, they couldn't concentrate on the game at hand (Wales).Since the Grand Slam, the team's overall record is patchy – surely some level of competition for places is desirable to take the step forward and become consistent troph winners? Lets not forget that the squad will most likely have more HEC medals than all 5 other squads put together – another year of stagnation is selling these players short …

  12. Everyone is entitled to their opinion and I know you guys are genuine, even handed fellas, but I do just want to post in support of DK. You see some fake men who pretend to be what Kidney is and he has earned my respect is all I can say. I would have liked to see his training squads put lines of demarkation to say who he thinks is good and not so good, so I can compare it with my own hypothetical squad lists, but I have to get over the fact that he isn't gonna dance to anyone's tune but his own. I like that. Yeah you can say he is a spoil sport for keeping his cards close to his chest, but that is the perogative of an international head coach and is probably the shrewdest way to do it.The only stories from these squads are the omission of gilroy, marshall and Johne Murphy altogether, the effective retirements of Stringer and Geordan Murphy, the demotion of boss. That is about it. I understand a certain amount of frustration, but maybe it should be viewed in the light of Kidney's comments a couple of years ago that he wanted an environment where "you were never totally out and were never totally in." His feeling was that was the way to get a consistent and contingent national team. Again, I like that and I agree.To criticise about DOC being in the senior training squad because he is second choice at Munster (a two tour lion though), is understandable…..he is under the pump at the minute, though you would have to pay credit to the effort and enthusiasm he is putting in to turn it around…..but to then on the other hand suggest Madigan should be in the squad, whilst the first choice midfield should be McFadden – O'Malley, well…..in the stadium of the blind the one eyed supporter is king. It does a disservice to genuine recognition of good Leinster play. I actually would love to see Madigan in some of the 22s for the tournament though, would be good as part of a running gameplan and in succession planning. These squads do not rule that out.Finally lads, congrats on the great standard on here, it really is a pleasure to read. I am only contributing this evening as I am visiting the in-laws and abusing their pc internet access – I normally can't contribute from smart phone. Adh mor.

  13. Hi paddy o – thanks for commenting, and for your compliments. To be honest, I don't mind Deccie keeping his cards close to his chest at all , and if he does spring a load of surprises with the team announcement then the initial squad announcement will be quickly forgotten.To be fair to JSRF (who I presume your DOC/Madigan comments are directed at), he is at least being philosophically consistent – he wants to take a Dingo Deans/Wazza Gatland (who has called up another teenage wing for Wales, incidentally) approach and give young talent exposure to test rugby, with provincial pecking orders not being particuarly important. It's us that mentioned DOC being second choice at Munster. I don't want to talk on his behalf, but I suspect his 'no thanks' to DOC would reflect his advancing years, while Madigan/O'Malley/Tuohy are younger guys who represent the future.On Donncha, fair's fair, he has never given anything less than 100% to the cause. I know it can appear that we have it in for the poor fella, and it should be said that his work ethic is exemplary. We have nothing against him personally, but just feel that a test lock has to provide more than he does.Anyway, this one will run and run lads. May I suggest we reconvene after the squad is updated post-Wolfhounds to see where we are.

  14. @Palla OvaleI'm with you on waiting till after the Wolfhounds before talking anymore about the squads cos we really don't know whats going to happen.But I just wanted to totally rescind my argument that it's too soon for Peter O'Mahoney. I was entirely wrong. He was magnificent once again at the weekend, with Munster totally dominating the Northampton back row. The manner in which he is consistently improving is very encouraging. I had concerns about his physicality (he's not exactly Sean O'Brien or David Wallace) but the sight of him trundling forward with Brian Mujati hanging out of him, in the lead up to Botha's try, was impressive.He has surely played himself into contention to start for the Wolfhounds now. And wouldn't a Henry/Ruddock/O'Mahony back row be exciting to see on Saturday.I'd like to echo Paddy O's compliments. Good work here guys.

  15. @DI – to change your mind shows that you have a mind! O'Mahony had his best game for Munster, and at 7 too. He has real aggression about him, and looks like he'd fight with anyone on either team, but what I like about him is he's a footballer. At one point he went scrum half but rather than looking to shovel across to the first man out, he fizzed a perfect pass right out in front of ROG who was about 15m away. Remarkable! We're buying this one.

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