Deccie Announces Squad!

At noon today Deccie announced a 31-man squad for the upcoming November internationals.  It’s become customary for these affairs to be followed by gnashing of teeth and wild gesticulations.  Truth be told, there isn’t a whole lot to say about this one that we haven’t said before.

Four uncapped players are included; Ulster’s Iain Henderson and Luke Marshall, newly Irish-ised Richardt Strauss and Munster prop David Kilcoyne.  We can only presume that Kilcoyne’s Mr. 15%, Frankie Sheahan will be using his media platform to talk about him an awful lot.  Strauss will debut from the bench, and 23-man squads will help Kilcoyne’s chances of a test cap.  Marshall and Henderson will be familiar with tackle bags by the end of the month.

Strauss’ call-up will excite a few purists.  He’s the first ‘project-player’ to make the international grade, and is certainly the second-best hooker in the country, but of course, has only qualified through residency.  Other nations, in particular England, have shown little angst about this approach, and perhaps as a nation we should not be too precious about it.  The rules are the rules and we may as well benefit.  Strauss’ quality as a player is not in doubt.

Luke Marshall represents something of a wild card, given he is not a starter in the Ulster team.  Deccie cited the reason for his selcetion as being that Ireland’s three best centres are all of a similar age profile, so some succession planning is in order.  It’s a pity the same logic didn’t extend to other positions, such as fly half, where ROG continues to be very much first reserve and there’s no place for any of the young battalion of 10s currently making waves.  Last we checked ROG was pushing 36, injured and not really that good any more.  Ireland will be left with only one experienced fly-half in the near future, but investigating a new one is kicked down the road again.

Kidney noted that he would probably add another prop and a back to the panel and is presumably waiting on Declan Fitzpatrick and Felix Jones to come through this weekend’s action with some game-time under their belts.  Rob Kearney’s injury leaves Ireland desperately short of specialist full-backs, but throwing an injury-prone and inexperienced player into the test environment before giving him aple opportunity to find his form would be a major risk; Keith Earls would be our preference for full-back, with Jones given a chance to prove himself with his province.  Earls’ positional switch would create room for the in-form Simon Zebo on the wing.

In the forwards, there is the usual super-abundance of second rows and blindsides.  The trio of Munster locks take their spots and are joined by Mike McCarthy and Dan Tuohy.  In the backrow all of Ferris, Henderson, McLoughlin, Muldoon and O’Mahony make the panel, but the only backrow with any experience at openside this season is Chris Henry.  He has a good shot at making the test team in O’Brien’s absence, but don’t discount the chance that Kidney will try to shoe-horn O’Mahony in at 7, despite not playing there this season.

Perhaps of more note than the players named was the news that Axel Foley will take over as defence coach, while Kiss will move to attack, but only for this series.  Greg Feek will also join the coaching team, again just for the series.  It has a cobbled together look, and does little to disprove the theory that this panel trundle from series to series with little forward planning or grand vision.  These are the perils of trying to appoint staff when the coaching ticket is in its final year.  Kiss was praised for his innovation in improving Ireland’s defence, but now finds himself removed from that role entirely.  There’s no new voice in the team, which they seem to be crying out for, as Foley has helped out in the past.  Still, it’s something, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to learn that the players demanded one coach to specialise in attack, with Brian O’Driscoll recently highlighting the issue in public.

The announcement does little to suggest this series will see anything hugely different from Team Ireland.



  1. pedantic pete

     /  October 24, 2012

    Isaac Boss anyone?

  2. pedantic pete

     /  October 24, 2012 clarify: as an example of a capped project player..

  3. Morton Slumber

     /  October 24, 2012

    Did Greg Feek not leave the Ireland setup, stating that he needed to focus on Leinster? Could have sworn I read that in the last month or two

  4. He did appear to say that, Morton. He has obviously been persuaded otherwise.

  5. Totally agree that the story is not the squad but the backroom musical chairs. Ireland’s hailed defense coach is now an attack coach, whilst Munster’s relatively new forwards coach becomes Ireland’s defense coach.
    If that is the best duct-tape job they can do, you really know the writing is on the wall.

    Why take your best coaching asset away from the job he was doing well and shift him to a job that he was half-doing badly, and replace the vacancy in the job he was doing well, with a relative novice, who is not a specialist in the area? It all stinks of endgame.

  6. Johnny

     /  October 24, 2012

    ROG as impact sub at 60 in to ignite the game…. OMG WTF.
    And they wonder why people don’t want to go to these games.

    C’mon DK grow a set already.

  7. Anonymous

     /  October 24, 2012

    Lads, you overlook Robbie Henshaw for 15? Sure, he is very young, but as they sayin’ goes, if your good enough…

    I’d prefer him there that Keet, as Keet seemingly doesn’t want to be a full back (even if it is probably his best position).

    • zdm

       /  October 24, 2012

      Tommy Bowe went through a phase of telling everyone he didn’t want to be a winger a few seasons ago – if I remember correctly, it was one of the reasons he left Ulster for the Ospreys (apart from the fact that they were absolute tripe at the time).

      He was harping on about what a great full back he was and how good he thought he would be in the centres. The Ospreys farted about with him in both positions for a while before finally telling him to shut up, catch the ball and run fast and he is now among the best wingers in the game so while I acknowledge that a happy player is a motivated player, I think Keet should be told to do what he does best: shut up, catch the ball and run in to gaps.

      *That doesn’t mean that Henshaw doesn’t deserve a shot, just that Keet isn’t an international centre, is an international wing and could be an international full back

      • Amiga500

         /  October 24, 2012

        Valid point.

        Although does Rob Penney have sufficient credit in the ‘ol goodwill account with Munster to go upsetting Keet and telling Radge to go pick splinters out of his arse at the same time?

      • zdm

         /  October 24, 2012

        Aghh, keep putting my email in the user name box. The bit about Keet being told to be a good boy and play full back was me

    • Amiga500

       /  October 24, 2012

      Sorry, thats me…

    • Leinsterlion

       /  October 24, 2012

      Keets best position for Ireland is on the bench where he can just about cover three positions competently.His outing as a FB for Ireland was mediocre, same with his outings at 13 and 11.He may develop into an international player at 11,13 or 15 but atm hes just a quick version of Paddy Wallace(in the sense of his utility tag)

      the artist formerly known as KeithEarlsisnota13

      • @Leinsterlion – I have to ask what your beef with Keith Earls is? His outings at 15 have not been frequent but I recall him being excellent (albeit untested under the high ball) against England, which was the last time he played there. He also played well at 13 in the last Six Nations, and has improved his general game there hugely over the last 12 months. This anti-Earls business strikes me as a bit parochial. The guy is a terrific player, and nothing remotely similar to Paddy Wallace, who’s a different egg entirely.

      • Leinsterlion

         /  October 24, 2012

        My comparison with PW is purely from utility perspective.I do believe he can develop into an international standard player at ONE of 11/15/14….eventually.However at the moment there are better options in every position.Penny is doing him no favours by switching him around.Earls,Fitzgerald and McFadden are all in the same boat as regards their position in the international set up.Fitz looked to have the 11 jersey nailed down a few years ago but injury and regression have put that up in the air.McFadden isnt trusted as evinced by his shunt to the wing everytime Darce returns.Earls is in the worst position of the three Penny doesnt trust him. and he has been given the unenviable task of covering three positions while mastering none.
        I do not think he’ll ever develop into an international 13. He doesnt have the frame/vision/defensive ability.However he could develop into an international class 11 OR (with a lot of game time) and international 15. Munster dont trust him at 15(hes behind Hurley and Jones),they brought in a dedicated exNZ in Lualala, so why would he jump the queue at 11/13/15 when there are first choice options available who play in those positions week in week out. International rugby is highly specialised and the best teams play the best available players in the position not shoehorning the most talented players into the team a-lá John Mitchell playing the best 15 in the world(Christian Cullen) at 13 to try and have all his talented players in the team.

      • Penney doesn’t trust Keith Earls? Unless he caught him eating the half-time oranges before the game, there’s not much evidence to support that assertion. Earls has played 13 in all but one of his games this season, and would probably be playing there now if he weren’t injured. Munster’s alleged lack of trust in Earls at 15 is similarly fanciful. Hurley and Jones have played there because they are specialists. Earls, as a specialist 13, has played at 13. Conspiracy theorising, at best.

      • Leinsterlion

         /  October 24, 2012

        Why was Lualua brought in then?Not as back up(what is Danny Barnes if not back up?)Lualua has started both games in the HC and 7 in the pro 12.
        You say he would be playing there now but for injury…well if hes injured what is he doing in the Ireland squad? He’s played four games this year,three at 13 with one good game (against the dragons)….not exactly the resume of the future of Irish outside centre play.
        I said Earls is not a 15, and jones and Hurley are specialists in that position and play there for Munster(in response to suggestions that Earls “fill in” at 15 due to injuries,when we have better options there). No conspiracy theories.Earls has played his most convincing rugby from the wing.
        ZDM mentioned Tommy Bowe proclaiming he was a centre/full back and then being put in his rightful position in relation to Earls,and he is spot on.
        Earls isnt built to play center.Dan Hipkiss was kept out of the England team by succession of lumbering oafs at 13,and he wasnt as slightly built as Earls and could smash people on his day.International rugby(as Kidney loves to tell us) is a step up.Earls though more talented then the Mike Tindall’s and Graeme Morrisson’s of the world would be liable to get squashed one on one.

      • Yeah. Sorry HenryFitz but I take issue with the notion Earls is a specialist 13. He wants to be one but that does not make him one. He is a player with a lot of talent but I remain convinced he is a fullback. His type of running game and lines are perfectly suited to full back, which was the position he played at Munster in his breakthrough season.

        • That’s not quite right Curates Egg – he played 13 that season. Warwick was outstanding at full back that year, and it was Tipoki’s injury that let him into the side at 13 and Earls was terrific. He filled in at FB for the Lions and lost a bit of confidence in doing so.

          He’s played the overwhelming majority of his Heineken Cup rugby at 13, but most of his Ireland career has been on the wing. If you look at his performances over the year at 13, he’s been very god there, and I don’t buy the argument that he’s not a test level 13.

      • Don

         /  October 25, 2012

        While I agree with a lot of things LeinsterLion says, there are a few things he needs to be reminded of.

        1) Lualua was bought before Penny was appointed. It wasnt his call. I would put that down to more poor buying and lack of a plan on Munsters part.

        2) BOD isnt exactly built like a typical center. Come to think of it, neither is D’arcy. It takes more than size and weight to succeed in rugby.

        3) I dont know if he will be a good centre (Im still dreaming of Luke Fitz making 13 his own) but despite all of our collective groaning before the 6 nations, Keith did a good job. Lets give him his dues there.

        LeinsterLion, your analogy a little furthur down reminds me of a Geroge Hook comment on Eddie in his last dark days. But Goebbels Thornley? Thats priceless my friend 😀

      • WOC – sorry but you are not quite correct on Earls either. He started a lot of games at full-back in that season and looked very good there IMO Warwick was of course in the driving seat for the H Cup quarters and semis, I’ll give you that. He’s a fine player wherever he plays, runs great lines and has a lot skill. I just think he is not strong enough to be an international centre the way the game is currently played.

      • 2008-2009, Earls had 7 starts at fullback. All in 2008. He also played one or two games there for the Lions. And 2 for Ireland, in total. That’s not much on which to base an argument that 15 is his position.

        The strength argument isn’t a whole lot better. He’s not much lighter than Conrad Smith and about the same weight as Fofana, who get by. There’s also little point trying to hide small players out on the wing or at fullback where they can face the likes of North, Cuthbert, Savea, Lamont and Visser bearing down on them. Defensively, a player is either up to the physical demands (pace, strength, technique, attitude) of international rugby in the three quarters or he isn’t.

  8. Bowe Gathers

     /  October 24, 2012

    ‘the trio of Munster locks take their spots…’ throws up in mouth

  9. Amiga500

     /  October 24, 2012

    Lads, you forget about Robbie Henshaw for 15?

    Sure, he is young, but as the sayin’ goes, if your good enough…

    [I’d prefer him at full back than Keet, who doesn’t want to play there, irrespective of whether its his best position or not.]

    • gibbsey

       /  October 24, 2012

      Couple of the Connacht backs should be included in this ‘XV’ squad by right

    • Bit early for the full squad, but could be in line for the Fiji game, for which a separate squad will be announced (with some overlap presumably).

  10. Offia

     /  October 24, 2012

    Was Kiss the successful attach coach at the Tahs?
    That aside the whole setup is stale
    From a Leinster perspective at least the reliance on players has lessened!
    Though 3 forwards will start and another 2 could be on the bench, at least 3 backs will start with 1 or 2 on the bench.
    Hope they all return to play Clermont.

  11. Leinsterlion

     /  October 24, 2012

    Kidneys squad announcements are reminiscent of Hitler in the reichbunker moving phantom and depleted divisions around the map in a futile attempt to stop the Soviets, while loyal subordinates hide the fact the the SS O’Gara division was wiped out a long time ago.Kidney plods along with the same players and “gameplan” while Chief propagandist Goebbels Thornley whispers sweet nothings into his ear.
    Its ridiculous that Madigan and Paul Marshall arent getting a look, I have zero faith in the current remit of our defence coach as attack coach, while another Munster lackey(Foley) gets his foot in the door propagating the Kidney mindset/malise.
    We will have one hard winnable game against Argentina.The Boks are a shambles,badly coached and reminiscent of Ireland in that they are playing a gameplan from ’07 with players selected no matter their form (Morne-O’Gara),(Spies-O’Callaghan).Ireland are the mirror image of the Boks. Conversely If we turn it on(a big if) and play like Leinster do when they are firing, we could win by 20.However if Ireland continue playing like the poor mans Springboks with none of the muscle,we will get hosed.

    the artist formerly known as KeithEarlsisnota13

    • Zaccone

       /  October 24, 2012

      Love that analogy in that first paragraph, works fantastically.

  12. gibbsey

     /  October 24, 2012

    I am dismayed Madigan and Jackson are not in the squad! Mads has played 2 HC games at full back and while very green, could cover in a pinch. In my mind the 2 of them had to get game time this November ahead of the 6N. Similar situation for Marshall. At least 23 man squads should give more props game time, also badly needed. How Henry isn’t considered a shoe in for the 7 jersey i don’t know. He is about 2 years late on looking at replacements for Darcy.

    This series could make for very painful watching indeed

  13. LaighinPitOperative

     /  October 24, 2012

    Don’t panic! I just heard Gerry ‘Goebbels’ Thornley on the radio stating that, in the rejig of the back-room staff, Kidney has got the balance just about spot-on! Phew… WhiffofCordite, you lads had us worried there. Hope you feel ashamed of yourselves for sowing such seeds of discontent with only logic to back you up…

    • That’s us told! Delighted to hear the balance is just right. A couple of weeks ago he was telling us an additional voice wasn’t necessary and everything was fine as it was, because the Kiwis have a small coaching staff too.

      Off to beat ourselves with the birch for our sins.

  14. LaighinPitOperative

     /  October 24, 2012

    Sorry, must also add G.G.T. just declared the selection was ‘very FORM orientated’ three times in a row, without a hint of irony. Brilliant. Typical Eddie O’Kidney, mad for the form.

  15. The Mad Octopus

     /  October 25, 2012

    The Goebles Thornely stuff is classic… It’s just shameless at the moment. The first online article after the squad announcement this afternoon bore the headline “Kidney includes four uncapped players”, looking the website now i can see that the updated article for tomorrow reads… “Strauss joined by three other new caps”. No agenda there…
    The problem is that the “occasional” fan really doesn’t know any better and they lap it up. No offense meant by “occasional” fan by the way (Or Gerry to an extent, his job is to sell papers.) I’m an “occasional soccer” fan. I have work mates and friends that are Utd./Chelsea/Whatever fans so although i rarely watch the matches i skim the papers now and then to keep abreast.
    And so i can foresee a conversation with a well intentioned work chum tomorrow going some thing like
    Other : “Oh, i saw that Ireland are playing South Africa soon.”
    Me : “Yeah its in a few weeks.”
    Other : “I saw we have something like four new players in the team!”
    Me : (Running for the door hiding my eyes so they can’t see my tears) “YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND.”

    It feels a bit like the I.R.F.U are taking “real” fans for granted in assuming that, though they are disgruntled, a large amount will attend out of habit and or tradition* (and lets not forget the optimism!). These articles are more aimed at the occasional fan who is thinking about bringing their kid to see Ireland for the first time or something like that and is sitting on the fence.
    Message reads: Yeah..Absolutely.. Tough task ahead.. Great day at the Aviva.. The mighty Springboks, eh… There’s something about Lansdowne road in the Autumn, I’m sorry, The AVIVA in the Autumn.. a real fizz in the air.. Ireland, embattled as always… small nation.. Springboks.. Something about the High Veldt… Punching above our weight… It’s a matter of clicking into gear… Real selection conundrum at fifteen.. Faith in this group of players… Hands tied in a regard… Cautionary tales of the past.. Reminder that Ireland just don’t breed the sort of fleshluumpeaters that roam the plains of South Africa… Reminder, last chance to see a golden generation… Affirmation of this group of players under this coach.. Reminder of how little time international coaches have with players… Reminder of the naughty nineties.. Great day out no matter what… Point out that Ireland are x points behind in the bookies after all… Eye to the six nations… Match day in the Aviva… Could come down to a bouncing ball (if we’re lucky and it all clicks into gear.)… Where else would you want to be?

    The I.R.F.U and the I.T. know that the “real” fans view Kidney as a lame duck and are hoping they’ll all flock back when he’s gone and are concentrating on the “swing state” fans instead. I will always support the Irish rugby team but i have no intention of attending any matches this Autumn and I’m worried that the longer this malaise continues, the longer it will take to rectify the damage done (on and off the pitch) when Kidney is finally given his golden watch.

    Grumble over.

    *and also out of loyalty to their local clubs who may lose future ticket allocations if they don’t.

    • anoonamous

       /  October 26, 2012


    • zdm

       /  October 26, 2012

      I would love to see some of these Autumn internationals sent out to the peripheral stadiums – can you imagine how much of a carnival Fiji at the Sports Ground would be? Or how much of a “Belfast Welcome” the Argies would get at Ravers?

      Every year, the Autumn series disappoints, it strikes me as nothing more than a money making scheme aimed at the prawn sandwich brigade. It should be an exciting opportunity to give new tactics and new players a run out before the serious business begins in the spring, instead it is an irritation for “real” rugby fans who have to watch the likes of Chris Henry or John Muldoon carry about water bottles for 3 weeks instead of playing high level club rugby.

  16. You gotta love the way Goebbels starts the article with “AS EXPECTED”.

  17. LaighinPitOperative

     /  October 25, 2012

    @Mad Octopus Nice post. In my humble opinion it will take years to rectify this situation. Even if you forget the Stiddy-Dickie fiasco, the extended contracts in the World Cup years, the shockingly poor selection of coachy’s pets and the ignoring of form, or the refusal to develop new tactics to apply to the post E.L.V. game, or the Bull starting in the R.D.S. against Samoa while Ross sat around at home, or Tomás O Boxkick, or Radge killing our chances of competing in Paris, or Radge getting endless starts he didn’t deserve over Humph/Sexton, or Radge starting in the Vagidome against Fiji, the list goes on and on and on, same stuff, different year. But that’s just crappy coaches and their parochial politics. Yes, they’ve made sure we’ve underachieved at international level… however…

    The lasting damage I do think was done by the I.R.F.U. directly. The ended up with a Lansdowne that is too small for normal ticket demands for internationals- and they got used to the idea of 82,000 watching rugby, minus the rent of Croke Park, so they reasoned… ‘we can’t fit that many in our snazzy but smallish stadium… so… instead… let’s… triple the prices!

    Wait… what if people can’t afford it. Apparently there’s some kind of recession happening to other people. Got it! Let’s threaten the minor clubs’ financial existence by telling them if they don’t sell the tickets they’ll lose their allocations for good! Brilliant!’

    So in that manner they managed to make rugby, on the crest of a wave of popularity and public support, get this… MORE elitist than ever by pissing off potential new supporters with hilarious ticket prices… and simultaneously… this is the really clever bit… pissed off the grass roots supporters and club members through bullying and threats about allocations! And now, for good measure, they’ve pissed off the provincial supporters and all (we all know how, and this rant is too long already). That’s every group of people who have an interest in rugby in this country that they’ve pissed off. Ovale, Egg, what’s your take on it all?

    Personally, I think that’s the kind of ill-feeling that will linger long after Dickie gets his long-overdue P45.

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