Alone He Stands

The fallout from Ireland’s record defeat to New Zealand continues. In the Indo yesterday, what we presume to be Deccie’s thoughts have been channeled through the grubby, ill-informed pen of Farmer Farrelly.  Apparently Deccie is ‘compromised’ in the position of head coach.

Where does one start? Well, let’s take it point by point.

Money is now the core issue, according to Hugh.  True, there looked to be a bit of corner-cutting on this tour, but Deccie’s hand-picked coaching team don’t exactly look like they were put together on a shoestring.

That the rugby setup in Ireland is to the detriment of the national team? Every other coach (bar none) would love the type of player access that Deccie has – he can tell their coaches when to play them, and bring them into camp largely whenever he wants. Key men like Johnny Sexton and Fez played more for Ireland than for their province last season.  Go tell it to the French coaches, who tried to fly Jean Marc Doussain out as cover before the World Cup semi-final, but had to wait for his release until after the week’s Top 14 game.

That Deccie would dearly love to have brought Ian Madigan on tour? Bring him then. You are the coach – you have the right to pick who you want. Maybe prepare by picking him for the Wolfhounds or the Baabaas game.

That Deccie is hamstrung by the situation in Connacht? Of course, we’d all like to have 4 competitive provinces, but good players in Connacht get routinely ignored by Deccie – Fionn Carr was left kicking his heels while Ian Dowling and Denis Hurley were capped in the North America tour in 2009. Tiernan O’Halloran didn’t even make the extended training squad.

That our lack of depth at tighthead is the provinces’ fault? In the November series of 2010, we played 4 games and picked John Hayes twice, Mushy once and Tom Court once. Why weren’t Jamie Hagan, Declan Fitzpatrick or Ronan Loughney given any game time?  Or, erm, Mike Ross, who was first-choice Leinster tighthead at the time.

The Churchill Cup and the Sevens circuit? The Churchill Cup has been abandoned as part of the (agreed) summer tour timetable which had Ireland in NZ for 3 Tests – the US and Canada played Italy this year in the same unified schedule. The ideas that Sevens will help the development of the national 15-a-side team is laughable – it’s like saying 5-a-side soccer will unearth the next Cristiano Ronaldo – the skill sets are entirely different – as evidenced by the complete dearth of former Sevens players at the top level.  The Welsh sevens team has in recent years produced no starters and just one occasional extended squad man, Aled Brew.

The excuses for Kidney and his team are coming thick and fast, but we suspect they won’t wash with an educated rugby public. Farrelly would be better off going back to praising Niall Scannell and calling Peter O’Mahony the new Ruchie – at least some people will believe that, no-one is buying this rubbish.

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  1. Colonel Nathan R Jessop

     /  June 28, 2012

    Gents, I applaud you.

    I can picture the Farmer in the witness box, squirming uncomfortably, as Whiff of Cordite Q.C. dismantle his story, point by point, with the courtroom door closing quietly after Kidney hurries from the public gallery….

  2. Keyboard warrior

     /  June 28, 2012

    Did you write this in your underpants though?!

  3. Farmer Farrelly and Colonel Poltroon Thornley are an ignoble pair who are incapable of clear objective analysis, they wallow in cowardice and the back slapping, hail fellow well met school of blazer ‘journalism’. DK has the authority and the power to pick whoever he wants, the real issue is that he has no game-plan, no vision, other than the past and it is to the past he continually reaches out to. Hence DOC and ROG and Paul Wallace are brought on tour, though in the latter’s case he was disgracefully dragooned when DK already had cover to hand. What we saw, not just in NZ but since the GS is a turgid unimaginative brand of football, placed in stark contrast by the Provinces and particularly by Leinster. Moreover, I as a supporter am getting increasingly frustrated by DK’s delphic utterances which are by now so threadbare as to provide no sustenance for even the most starved of moths. Hagen, Fitzpatrick, Loughney, Marshal, Cave etc etc have all been ignored, instead he looks South to DOC and ROG who should never have been on the tour. I write this as a Munster supporter but DK’s time is at an end. The players and the supporters deserve more than this mediocre melange that the IRFU appear happy to continue with.

    • Giuseppe

       /  June 28, 2012

      I knew we were short on tight heads but I’m fairly sure Paul Wallace stayed in the comfort of the Sky Sports studio with Fitzy for this tour!

    • haha sevens the furtue?? sevens is fun to watch but people go to party not to watch, 15s is real rugby you see this in nz where we have one of the best sevens team but these plays are all super 15 rejects or players developing

  4. El Greco

     /  June 28, 2012

    I eagerly await The Farmer’s next ham-fisted, semi-literate salvo against the underpants wearers after this filleting.

  5. HenryFitz

     /  June 28, 2012

    Alex Cuthbert came through the Welsh 7s team. Harry Robinson will probably follow him into the national side. Julian Savea and Liam Messam are both former 7s internationals. Players who play it learn a lot about using space, linking up with support and how to defend and convert overlaps. Fergus McFadden, for example, would be a far better player if he played a bit of 7s.

    The tighthead position is the only position in which the provinces have acted to the detriment of the national side, with Wright, White, Botha and Afoa delaying the development of Ross, Hagan (who Leinster should not have signed if they weren’t going to play him), Fitzpatrick and John Ryan/Stephen Archer. Fitzpatrick’s career has definitely been hindered by the importation of Court, Botha and Afoa, albeit that injuries have not helped him either. There is also an argument that Thorn over Toner has not helped the national side, but in view of Leinster’s poor performances at ruck-time against Glasgow and the Ospreys, it’s understandable that Leinster brought him in, and that Kidney duly ignored Toner.

    Clearly there are problems in the national set-up, with Kidney having apparently lost the players and the defence going to pieces, but that does not absolve the IRFU and the provinces of all responsibility. Irish rugby may have become a little too satisfied with success in the Heineken Cup.

    • paddy o

       /  June 29, 2012

      Fair points in there, particularly agree on the 7s. Maybe the future isn’t in solely high tempo, instinctive running lines, handling and support play, but no-one should go bosh alone (we’ve seen it tried, you know who you are) and 7s could serve us so well. It is also a great way for backs and back rowers to work on their breakdown skills and take players away from ahem, unseen work-there are no hiding places. I can remember the days of Eric Elwood playing 7s for Ireland. The guy was a lot of things (and had a kick dummy that could leave open sides having to pay back in), but built for 7s he was not! Still, I’m sure he got something from it. I know 7s has become more specialised since then, but surely to god it has something to offer our players. Put it like this you are unlikely to see SH teams adopting the NH winter season back play anytime soon. To not even compete…..I’m sorry lads, I’m with matty williams on this one.

      Regarding the Nov ’10 series, it is hard to give meaningful international gametime over 3 games to lads who are 5th or 6th in the depth chart. Mike Ross should have got in then – his graph was rising, but it has continued to do so. He has come through and has truly earned his stripes. That’s the challenge to all our props.

      I do agree with the WoC lads about TOH and madigan. Although in fairness the place to blood them is probably back at home rather than NZ. Madigan particularly should have been blooded against Italy this 6Ns, but if not then, I can understand why it wasn’t NZ.

      The point about our season set-up is an interesting one and is more complex than either farrelly or the lads suggest. The Irish players have had the most drawn out season of any group of players. The opportunity for periodisation hasn’t really been there (unless you get injured!). They have been pretty steady on either match prep phase or r and r phase. Other national teams have been a bit more able to get their peaks and troughs right, the Irish lads have been on high alert virtually all the time. No matter who you are, that is a tough ask to do and could potentially lead to some of the fluctuations we’ve seen. It will be a big challenge for the s&c staff in the future, as hopefully we have teams at the business end of all the competitions they are in, international and provincial. That isn’t excuse making and the coach has a duty to rotate too. Kidney did some of that over the ba baas/bnz games and there was an effort to look at variety in our game (fast and loose vs pack orientated) in the first two tests. It didn’t happen in the 6Ns – a mistake and kidney was wrong -there was an appetite for experimentation vs Scotland and Italy.

      All this bickering with farrelly is a bit of a smoke screen in reality though, the big issue is that the irfu need to decide either back them now or sack them now. The one thing not to do is to have someone waiting in the wings post 6Ns. If the tournament goes well, it leaves a very messy scenario. If it goes badly, the irfu will have undermined the performance. It is just one man’s opinion, but i think this ticket should be given the chance to turn things around at the 6Ns and given the respect to do so before other negotiations occur. If things do come to an end, I’m not sure of the intricacies of o’sheas contract situation, but it would appear that Mike Ruddock is in a prime position. I have read about how the next head coach should be someone with no provincial ties and that he is too leinster-based. I hate that appeasing mindset. The right person should get the go at it, end of story and they should get support from all sides to do so. If kidney and his team can demonstrate that again, then they too should be supported.

      One last thing, what is the underpants thing about?

    • We take your point on the Welshies, but I’m not sure Cuthbert or Savea needed their Sevens time to become the players they are.

      It seems the whole Sevens debate is a storm in a teacup given the IRFU have said they won’t be funding it – but we still think a functioning Sevens side would be of little benefit to Kidney, or any national coach.

      • Cena2j

         /  June 29, 2012

        Farrelly tarred everyone with same brush. I hardly think bloggers like Whiff of Cordite, Dementedmole, et al are ruining peoples lives. It’s a few guys who are passionate about a sport and want to discuss it, without having their views and opinions censored by media corporations. There’s bad people in every walk of life, of course blogs and FB pages set up to bully and harass people are totally wrong and the majority of people don’t do that. Coaches Athletes Actors singers etc put themselves out there to be crtiticised (constructively) it goes with the territory. I have never once seen someone on the rugby blogs I read attack the character of a player or coach. So Farrelly can shut up.
        Farrelly has pigeonholed anyone with the motivation to set up a site and wrie about something they love. Does Farrelly think people who review films are bad people as well? oh no someone said a spielberg movie was bad…Farrelly to the rescue. That guy probably thinks Kingdom of the Crystal Skull was a good movie.

    • mxyzptlk

       /  June 29, 2012

      This got me thinking, because although I largely agree with this piece, the dismissiveness of sevens seemed unwarranted.

      Here is a list of the All Blacks from the team that just pasted Ireland who also have sevens experience:
      • Hosea Gear
      • Cory Jane
      • Liam Messam
      • Victor Vito
      • Beauden Barrett
      • Tamati Ellison
      • Ma’a Nonu (I know, was rested — would it have made a difference?)
      • Ben Smith
      • Israel Dagg
      • Julian Savea
      • Zac Guildford
      • Adam Thomson

      There are seven more who are playing at the Super Rugby level, and the list of Aussies is longer (eight on the Wallabies, another 23 playing either Super Rugby or in Europe). As for Wales, more than just Cuthbert and Brew played sevens; so did Harry Robinson, James Hook, Lloyd Williams, Rhys Webb, Josh Turnbull, and Aaron Shingler. The current England and Scotland squads have quite a few past sevens players (and Scotland did show improvement this June), and a good deal of the Samoan sevens team also plays on the national 15s side.

      (Disclaimer: I only have this list because my wife has gone rugby-mad since the World Cup, watched all the IRB Sevens, wanted to know who played both 7s and 15s. So we checked.)

      But beyond just certain specialized skills, isn’t sevens also known for developing a certain kind of fitness? It’d be hard to argue that New Zealand weren’t more physical and better-conditioned than Ireland — both throughout the 80 minutes and across the three-Test series. Rob Kearney even asked if they were just built different than the Irish. (See Hosea Gear, former sevens player, big-brother Keith Earls in the third Test.)

      Maybe a sevens team wouldn’t do much for the current 15s side, but that may be because the current 15s side aren’t sure how to use the specific attributes sevens-trained players can offer. New Zealand, Australia, and Wales seem to have worked them in pretty effectively

      • paddy o

         /  June 30, 2012

        Lucky fecker!

      • paddy o

         /  June 30, 2012

        Think you are being a touch harsh on farrelly there lads. Unless you were one of the lads tweeting John muldoon, which is grade A asshole behaviour. The point about abuse on-line is a fair enough one and he is right to challenge it. I don’t see me or you guys falling into that category though.

        I’ve seen a little bit on both sides, once posting something in anger I regret. It annoys me and I just hope it annoys me more than them. Also I’ve had stuff posted about me, you just gotta laugh it off, not take yourself too seriously and realise there must be a bit of anger in the poster.

        If he is attacking Woc he has indeed got it wrong. I’m not big on-line and don’t know the first thing about twitter, but enjoy your site. That doesn’t apply everywhere, a lot of stuff online can be pretty hateful – surely that’s what he’s on about? If he is on about me, then I’m a proud member of the brigade!

  6. Rich_aus

     /  June 28, 2012

    I would have to disagree with you on the 7’s Henry – i just can t see the value in us pumping money into joining the 7’s circuit – surely a touring party of say 35 to NZ with a couple of midweek fixtures to play a reserve side would have benefited us – especially in NZ where small towns have a post office, a shop, a pub and 4 rugby clubs, we would have had no problem getting games arranged. But if cost is the issue then there is not much we can do but hang in there and work with what we have.

    But i am in 100% agreement that the imports are stifling our young players coming through, but chairmen want success over a good crop of homegrown young players – harsh as that sounds – its the reality.

  7. Paddy Logan

     /  June 28, 2012

    Looking forward to some more wide-eyed invective against the bloggers from Mr Farrelly. It is shocking that one has to look to ‘unpaid’ (I intentionally avoided the word ‘amateur) scribblers on the blogoshphere for informed, and informative rugby analysis. Take a bow WoC, Mole, JLP (HoR) and Murray Kinsella. It’s all any true Irish fan needs to follow the game.

  8. Chris

     /  June 29, 2012

    The tighthead situation I disagree with, if our tightheads are not good enough to hold a first team position for their province then how will they be good enough to pack down against any top tier nation? Coaches bring in foreign players because they don’t see a local player that can fill that position to a sufficient standard, they don’t do it for a laugh.

    My favourite piece of the article, “Whatever he said in public, in his darker private moments he must have been cursing whoever agreed to a three-Test tour to New Zealand at the end of a World Cup year (while Scotland enjoyed mugging Australia and a handy, bonding trip around the Pacific islands).” As WoC already pointed out, Wales and England both had strong showings in all 3 tests on their tours (with England even throwing in some midweek games), this additional excuse by Farrelly is the icing on the “Don’t blame Kidney” cake!

    • The crucial thing about tighthead is that if you have a poor one, it virtually doesn’t matter how good the rest of your team is – that’s why they get paid the big bucks. Having said that, you can’t slowly introduce a tighthead into the team for a multitude of reasons (not least safety) – they need to be at a certain standard before they can step up, which almost makes it a chicken and egg situation.

      Look at Deccie Fitzpatrick for example – he has only ever played 32 games for Ulster, and the first game of note he played was against Embra this year – but once he played it, the concensus seems to be that he will swim at this level, albeit not be as good as John Afoa (albeit maybe a better scrummager?).

      The flip side of that is that Kidney insists that international rugby is such a step up that the only way you can test yourself is to play there – if this is the case Fitzpatrick, Loughney, Hagan et al’s provincial form is irrelevant – yet Kidney uses their bench status at provincial level to justify not picking them – it’s flawed logic.

      One of them could easily have played against Samoa in 2010, or got 15 minutes against Roncero in the same series – but the usual suspects were picked. That’s on Kidney…

    • HenryFitz

       /  June 29, 2012

      Fitzpatrick was playing Heineken Cup in 2008, and not doing too badly. Ulster chose to bring in Botha because he was better, and perhaps because they wanted some outside influence to change the general attitude in the squad. He also lost out to Court a few times, for which the IRFU are more to blame. It’s an imponderable whether Fitzpatrick benefited more from Botha’s tuition and general influence than he would have from playing games, but I reckon not. And I think it’s clear that he’s not going to benefit from being stuck behind Afoa for the next two seasons. Adam Macklin might learn a lot, but Fitzpatrick certainly won’t.

      As a more general point, I think it’s odd that Ulster in particular have gone down the route of signing NIQ props. They’ve never really had any difficulty producing their own. They were caught a bit by Simon Best’s retirement, but it’s the sort of thing you’d have expected them to rectify fairly quickly. They’re not short of beasts up thon country.

      • That’s a fair point.

        Given Fitzpatrick stepped in to relatively good effect this last 3 months, you’d postulate that Botha has been a positive influence on him, but, as you rightly point out, at this stage, its debatable how much more will be learned from sitting behind John Afoa all year.

        That said, you’d think Ulster will have Afoa pencilled in for the 6 HEC games (and, truthfully, at least one more) – Fitzpatrick should then be expecting to start at least 10 Pro12 games, presuming Ulster don’t want Afoa bushed. Add in the high attrition rate at prop, and he might expect even more (assuming of course, he himself manages to stay injury-free). One way or another, it’s shaping up to be a key year for him … and Irish tightheads

      • HenryFitz

         /  June 29, 2012

        Afoa played nearly every game this last season after he arrived. It’s another of the problems with signing the NIQs. They don’t have international commitments, and they’re being paid the big bucks, so they play a lot of games. Just ask BJ. I’d expect Afoa’s game total to be somewhere in the 20s come season end, injuries permitting. Ulster will want value for their money. Fitzpatrick may only get 5-7 games, though if he gets himself properly fit, he might earn a few more.

        • I’d be very surprised if Fitzpatrick gets as little as 5-7 games (fitness permitting). He’s on the national management’s radar now and I’m sure the IRFU will be making sure he gets some visibility. Stephen Archer at Munster made 20 appearances last year (8 starts) and he’s a fair bit behind Fitzpatrick in terms of making a dent at H-Cup or test level.

  9. HenryFitz

     /  June 29, 2012

    The criticism of Kidney for not bringing Tiernan O’Halloran into his extended squad is a bit of a stretch. O’Halloran made the 30-man first-team training squad for the 6N as one of the six youngsters, along with Conway, O’Mahony, Zebo, McAllister and Nagle. Zebo went to the Wolfhounds to cover Fitzgerald’s injury and the injured McAllister and Conway plus Zebo were replaced by McGrath, Gilroy and Carr. O’Mahony impressed enough to make the senior squad, but Dave Kearney took the up-and-coming back-3 player spot.

    Then look at the squad for the Barbarians game, the back 3 players were Earls, Trimble, Gilroy and Zebo. As O’Halloran’s form dropped off appreciably toward the end of the season, it would be hard to make a case for him to be ahead of any of that quartet. Gilroy passed him out, and with only one error-strewn outing as a fullback in the entire season, he wasn’t really a live contender for the A.N. Other/Gavin Duffy slot. As the thinking for the summer tour seems to have been to involve as few players as possible and let everyone else go off on their holidays, it wasn’t much of a surprise to see him excluded.

    • We would disagree – if TOH had been playing for Leinster or Munster and exhibited the type of form he did in the HEC against the champions of England and France, he would have been in the 6N squad faster than you could say Simon Zebo.

      His form did turn down, but then Connacht don’t have the resources to rotate a player like him in the same way the major provinces could.

    • HenryFitz

       /  June 29, 2012

      That’s fair enough reasoning. My view is that Zebo has a higher ceiling than both O’Halloran and Gilroy, but there isn’t a lot between them at the moment. It’s a pity Andrew Conway can’t stay fit, as he looked to be the best of them all.

  10. Pete

     /  June 29, 2012

    I do think there is a point over the use of 7s as a development tool. It’s woefully underdone up here, but it’s used a lot in NZ and Australia, and some of the skill its touted to coach are horrifically absent in NH players. If nothing else, it’s a way to expose more youngsters to a higher quality of rugby. However, as a pure and simple bottom line exercise, it’s probably not worth more than the Wolfhounds, or keeping the provinces strong. And that’s it. WoC is spot on here for me.

    The tighthead point is utter bull excrement, not least because if the Irish management were so upset about all these tightheads from outside Ireland, they could block the signings. Afoa played most of last season because Fitzpatrick spent most of it injured. Given that Botha was Ulster’s scrum coach, I think it’s fairly obvious that Fitzpatrick owes a fair bit to him. And he has been ignored for Ireland before when fit – as was Ross, as was Fitzpatrick.

    Things are never perfect for an international coach. That’s what he’s paid for, not have a second-hand whinge over.

  11. Rich_aus

     /  June 30, 2012

    Completely agree – Prop now the most important position on the field. This is one of the areas i think we have developed – Leinster can use Hagan this term as well as Michael Bent, who is Ire qualified, Ulster will give more gametime to MacAlis/Fitz, i am thinking Archer will struggle for games but the Connacht can get a bit of gametime for Louch/Wilko.

    They are up against top intl players in Afoa, Healy/Ross,Botha – which will improve them no end so when they do start it will be on merit, not because they are “the only props we have” I think we all know if its a choice between a young pup coming through and an old war horse, Kidney will be conservative and play the old hand, with Ross injury in 2nd test we could have played Fitz and given him a rattle.

  12. FrontUpRiseUp

     /  June 30, 2012

    I appreciate that Kidney has a clear unfavoured bias towards Munster players, but your closing comments are very unfair to the young Munster players who get picked like O’Mahony and Zebo. What do you expect them to do, tell Kidney ‘no I don’t deserve to play for my country at this stage of my development so bring Faloon or TOH instead’. O’Mahony comes in for alot of criticism on these blogs because of his agents media appearances or because Farmer Farrelly gets all hot & bothered over his HCUP performances. If Farelly delusionally believes that POM is the next McCaw then aside from having a few screws loose, that is his call and one that O’Mahony shouldn’t be lambasted for. It is comparable to when Tony Ward and Peter O’Reilly write articles about how Ireland must keep hold of Luke Fitzgerald. Many fans rightfully can disagree with them citing Luke’s form and injuries but they shouldn’t blame the player but rather blame the media for giving Luke hype and pity that he doesn’t want or need. They are all good players and certainly in POM case will be Ireland internationals for a long time. To be disparaging of them due to things outside of their control is unfair.

    • I’m not sure about that – we have always recognised that O’Mahony is a very talented young man of huge promise, and the Zebo has qualities that many Irish wings do not (e.g. lightning pace, eye for the try line).

      However, and particularly in the case of POM, they have been hyped up to a ludicrous extent.

      POM – George Hook calls for him as the solution to our back row lack of balance (a premise we disagree with by the way – we think our back row are fine, but its the way they are being used on the pitch which is not) despite the fact he has played but a handful of games at openside flanker. Hugh Farrelly calls him the next Richie McCaw. This is crazy, and extremely unhelpful to his development. The fact is, right now, Peter O’Mahony is a player of great potential, but no more. He has one full season under his belt, and has yet to produce anything like a first class performance, in a big HEC game for example. Having him on the Ireland squad with players like Fez, SOB and Jamie Heaslip, who are of a higher quality than those who he plays and trains with day in day out, is a no-brainer – in 5 years time when his peak years begin, it will stand to him. But right now, he is behind Chris Henry (not Willie Falloon – holy hand NOT Willie Falloon!) in terms of impact, nous, experience and suitability for the Irish first XV. Henry probably doesn’t have the natural ability of POM, but he is 6 years older, and it shows in his on-field intelligence, conditioning and physicality.

      Simon Zebo has scored tries for fun this year, and is the fastest Irish winger since Denis Hickie, but his tackling technique and defensive positioning are not at international level. Working with Dougie Howlett in Munster (the best winger for on-pitch position currently playing in Ireland) will aid his development here. Has Zebo done enough to be selected internationally? Not for us – even with Bowe and Fitzgerald injured and McFadden clearly not a winger of international class; Trimble, Earls and Gilroy are ahead in the queue. Zebo will improve, and has a very high potential ceiling, but, like O’Mahony, isn’t there yet.

      The point we were essentially trying to make is that, under Deccie, it seems easier to get capped if you are from Munster. Ironically, historically Munster have always thrived on the opposite perception – so maybe they are due a break!

  13. Rich_aus

     /  July 1, 2012

    Yes – I don t think comparing POM to McCaw will do him any good. The point you are making is a good one tho, KIdney has and will continue to place his trust in what he knows, which is Munster. Galway is the squad advisor I believe for Munster, so imagine Kidney will listen to him for players, eg – OGara and DoC still worth their places etc, whereas we have a guy like Madigan at Leinster playing well when involved, and had a fantastic cameo in the HC final – yet is not considered for the tour.

    OMahoney will struggle next year, roger Wilson back at ulster and could prove a good backup for heaslip at no 8, plus expecting R Ruddock to have a big push this year (potential with obrien operation to start for Leinster) so PoM will need more than a Munster shirt to justify inclusion IMHO.

    I am also very keen to see how Penney handles stand off at Munster. keatley is 25 now and not a young player any more, if he impresses and starts ahead of OGara then there will be no justification for picking rog for the aut tests, a forward thinking coach with no Munster ties could be keen for change after a couple of failed seasons.

    • Peter O’Mahony will get ahead of those guys I think. If you look at what he brings, especially his ball skills, he is capable of attaining a very high level. He needs some physical development, but that’s fixable by eating steaks and pumping ze iron. I have little doubt that once he fills out a bit he’ll be a top notch 6.

      Not convinced by Rhys Ruddock – he has more fundamental issues in his game than O’Mahony – not least his upright carrying style.

  14. jacothelad

     /  July 2, 2012

    On a point of accuracy, Fitzpatrick has actually played 64 games for Ulster including 31 or 32 starts. It has been quite clear for years that he is a better scrummager than Buckley for example but Kidney thought Mushy was ‘World Class.’ Suspect judgement? No. Blind stupidity.

  15. Rich_aus

     /  July 3, 2012

    We need a backup No 8 – we saw how important a position it can be and at present – O’Mahoney isnt a no 8. Wilson probs only viable option at the moment

    • I wouldn’t write O’Mahony off as an 8 on the basis of one terrible game against the Kiwis when the pack as a whole were mauled. Agree that Wilson’s a good player though, think he’ll be a solid replacement for Wannenbosh at Ulster.

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