Ireland Team Announced

Deccie named his team for Ireland’s opening Six Nations game in the Millennium today and it contained few surprises. From the Argentina game in November, the changes are:

  • Fit-again Bob in for the injured Tommy Bowe, with Simon Zebo reverting to wing
  • Fit-again BOD takes back the hallowed 13 shirt from Keith Earls, who didn’t stake a strong claim for it in the Autumn
  • Fit-again Rory Best comes in for injured Richardt Strauss (this change would have happened anyway, in our opinion)
  • Fit-again Sean O’Brien is preferred to Chris Henry, with Peter O’Mahony moving to openside

So, to summarize, 4 of the apostles who were injured are now fit again and come back in. Ireland look more experienced and familiar as a result, and at least its interesting.

Are these the right calls? Not for us.

Wales, like last year, will look to kick long and in-field and contest every breakdown feverishly with twin groundhogs Justin Tipuric and Sam Warburton – and we are going in without an openside. Henry, who has been far and away the best 7 in Ireland for the last 2 years with a good November series under his belt, is on the bench. We risk losing the breakdown battle and initiative to a Welsh team with a backline who can punish you – this is a poor selection.

On the wing, we have gone for the young and exciting option – we’ll get plenty of opportunities to see Gilroy and Zebo with ball in hand as they run back Welsh bombs, that’s for sure. But we feel their skillsets are very similar – both are out and out touchline huggers, pacy with an eye for the tryline. Zebo is better at finding space, while Gilroy’s dancing feet and NFL-style pirouettes make him slippery in contact. Neither is adept and coming off their wing looking for that killer line to break through, or even to bosh into contact and set up a move. Bowe is brilliant at this, and Andy Trimble performs this role for Ulster, but we would have picked Luke Fitzgerald, who looks electric on his return from injury, over Gilroy.

But that’s a marginal call – we can see why Gilroy has been selected. The flanker call, on the other hand, is a  clanger – we are giving the Welsh free reign at ruck-time. If we have a gameplan to keep the ball in hand and away from their breakdown-dominating flankers, great, because we’ll need one.

The subs bench contains Declan Fitzpatrick, who has played around 120 minutes this season – there was no other option, as anyone who saw the Wolfhounds scrum accelerating backwards on Friday will understand. Michael Bent needs to spend some time with Leinster and get back on track.

The team in full:

15 Rob Kearney 14 Craig Gilroy 13 Brian O’Driscoll 12 Gordon D’Arcy 11 Simon Zebo 10 Jonathan Sexton 9 Conor Murray 1Cian Healy 2 Rory Best 3 Mike Ross 4 Mike McCarthy 5 Donnacha Ryan 6 Peter O’Mahony 7 Sean O’Brien 8 Jamie Heaslip.

Replacements: 16 Sean Cronin 17 David Kilcoyne 18 Declan Fitzpatrick 19 Donncha O’Callaghan 20 Chris Henry 21 Eoin Reddan 22 Ronan O’Gara 23 Keith Earls

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  1. Tommy Kennedy

     /  January 29, 2013

    Peter O MAhony played blind side in Autumn and is playing blind side against Wales according to the official IRFU team.

    • The point stands – neither are opensides, and SOB has been doing damage from blindside for Leinster, POM 8/blindside

      • ORiordan

         /  January 29, 2013

        Yes, but Peter O’Mahoney has a central contract – that trumps being an openside.

      • Scrumdog

         /  January 31, 2013

        Do you really believe that POM is a test match 6 or 8? Would the backrow not be better balanced with Henry at 7; Heaslip 8 and O’Brien is a backrow that brings more ‘power’ to the breakdown where we must win on Saturday to provide quick ball.

  2. jojo

     /  January 29, 2013

    agree 100%. gutted for henry.
    i dont see the appeal of o’mahoney
    kidney ctns to ignore ulster players (leinster fain perspective)

  3. jojo

     /  January 29, 2013


  4. Yossarian

     /  January 29, 2013

    POM been offered an IRFU contract while SOB still waiting?the guy you should be no more than 5th choice back row(in my opinion even lower) think its a poor call to go into this game without Henry at 7.Court unlucky to miss out on bench and I’m worried we are destined to see ROG come on and Sexton to 10 at some point unfortunately.

    • O’Brien still waiting, eh? Not the way I’ve heard it told

    • The rumour I heard (I stress rumour) was that the unwillingness isn’t on the IRFU side

      • Chogan (@Cillian_Hogan)

         /  January 29, 2013

        That is understandable.

        The IRFU would want to tie him up but SO’B has nothing to bargain that position against if he went for it. There is money in the game but not to the point where transfer fees are being paid. This means a french contract won’t be offered to him until he is coming off his current one.

  5. Anonymous

     /  January 29, 2013

    I think this team will be lucky to win a match.

  6. Yossarian

     /  January 29, 2013

    Sexton to 12 it should say

  7. Tommy Kennedy

     /  January 29, 2013

    Did ye not say after second test in New Zealand it was a myth O Brien couldn’t play seven?

    • Yeshe can play seven, but his carrying has been explosive for Leinster since returning from injury and I think we’d be better balanced with Henry at 7. It’s hard to make the case that O’Brien is a better 7 than Henry, and O’Mahony a better 6 than O’Brien, but that’s essentially what Kidney is saying.

      • solidalarry

         /  January 29, 2013

        I don’t think your analysis is right here. Their starting point, IMO correctly, I think would have been Heaslip plays and O’Brien plays. Jamie’s obviously at eight, what they are looking for is the best combination and they could believe – as I do – that O’Brien is our best available six AND seven (or even six, seven and eight, just extend the following argument), so then look at who they prefer from Henry and O’Mahony, factoring in that POM can play both sides while CH would only be at seven and how this affects, on balance, on which flank you select SOB. Considering all that, they’ve chosen as above.

        For what it’s worth, I would have chosen Henry.

  8. Yossarian

     /  January 29, 2013

    SOB can play 7 as we saw in NZ,doesn’t mean our back row wouldn’t have better balance with Henry playing

    • Scrumdog

       /  January 29, 2013

      Exactly right. O’Mahony is nowhere close to being a test match backrow player. To play O’Brien at 6 for more effective ball carrying duties is the way to go with Heaslip and Henry balancing the unit with more bulk in the pack and at the breakdown. O’Mahony will be exposed and provide goal kicking opportunities for Wales..but hope he plays well! Ferris is on the way back. This is not the first time Kidney and Co, have missed the plot in backrow selection (NZ 3rd. Test).
      A torrid day ahead for both wingers if Ireland cant win the collisions, Zebo and Gilroy are not tight in defence. The inclusion by Kidney of O’Gara (far from his best) who has botched all of his last appearances is just disturbing to say the least,on what basis was he selected? We can only hope that Sexton remains on the field for the full eighty!

  9. Joe

     /  January 29, 2013

    Agreed, I would have Henry over POM but I do think it is a relatively marginal call.

    I know Gilroy hasn’t torn up trees in the last few weeks but the buzz he generated the last day warrants his pick in my eyes.

    Would rather Jackson on the bench over ROG – I hope to hell we don’t see this Sexton-to-12 bullsh1t. Though I am not optimistic on that front.

    Given Wales’ form and injuries we should squeeze this. If not, the knives will be out early and the atmosphere could be toxic for the England game.

    • ROG’s name on the bench is a continued blight. However, I am probably not alone in fretting at the thought of Jackson playing in this 6 Nations.

      • Joe

         /  January 29, 2013

        Maybe, but I’d like to see him given the chance, he just edges Madigan for experience in my eyes.

        ROG has been a disaster in his more recent cameos and it would be great to remove the temptation DK has to shoehorn him in for Darcy.

  10. Anonymous

     /  January 29, 2013

    I can’t think why Ulster think there is a bias against them. Pity he picked Best & Gilroy

  11. Bushmills

     /  January 29, 2013

    The average Ulster fan will concede that if all back rows were fit, their beloved Stephen Ferris would lose out to SOB as the blindside pick, as the back row with Henry selected at no7 brings great balance to the Irish trio either side of Heaslip.

    The selection of a third choice no 6 against Sam Warburton by Kidney is not only foolhardy, but it is yet another example of Kidney and his failure to “trust” Ulster players, as he blatently does Munster players. Enough is enough. Henry was the focus of Stuart Barnes glowing admiration on Sky after the Castres game where he made 10 turnovers. What more does the man have to do?

    Ulster are the best team in Ireland this season and Kidney has deemed 2 players worthy of a Six Nations start (one of whom is not automatic first choice). What a joke.

    • bob

       /  January 29, 2013

      So hang on here a bit Mr BushMills, which Ulster players should be in the team?, Cave for BOD, Jackson for Sexton, Wallace for Darcy, Court for Heay, Piennar for Murray, Afoa for Ross, I could go on here.

      Tough call on Henry but a bit of perspective is needed in regards to Ulster players on the team. To be honest I think it should be POM,Henry, Heaslip for more of a balance. Bring O’Brien on with 20 to go at blind side then. He has not done anything to put him back in starting line up since his injury. Two stand out players in recent Heino were POM and Henry for their respective clubs.

      • Bushmills

         /  January 29, 2013

        Fair point Bob for the starting XV. Though on this season Wallace has been terrific but i am certainly not suggesting his inclusion. But for the bench: ROG over Jackson, Donnacha over Henderson and Kilcoyne over Court. 3 straight calls in addition to O’Mahoney over Henry.

        Do you see where the frustration comes from?

      • bob

         /  January 29, 2013

        I dislike ROG immensely, I would have gone for Jackson. Kilcoyne over court was a 50 50 call. If Henderson was playing second row consistently I would agree, as I think he is a class act. No real cover at second row at moment. Think Ulster has lost out on a couple of tight calls and can see frustration.

        Henry exclusion is biggest decision to me but great to see Gilroy get a chance.

      • Bowe Gathers

         /  January 30, 2013

        My right testicle Kilcoyne over Court is a marginal call. Ulster have out scrummaged one and all this season, and Afoa is not the only cause – Best and Court have been on fire in the tight. Munster have played Marcus Horan this season. Any scrum argument is totally invalid after that. Ulster consistently lose out on these tight calls and it’s beyond frustrating, it makes me feel like there’s a conspiracy in all seriousness. We are, at the time of writing, the number one team in Ireland. It’s not often I’d dare to say it, but it’s true. Kidney wears red pyjamas and Paul O’Connell undies. Irish team selections make me sick.Bah bloody humbug.

  12. Agree on the Henry point: very disappointing and the clear loose link in the chain of this selection.

    For me, the bench is a real worry though. Apart from Henry, Cronin and Reddan, it is hard to see the bench changing the game if its not going our way. For Henry, he should be in there from the start, with POM to come on as a game-changer (not vice-versa). DOC should either start or not make the 23. Hopefully, we are not chasing the game after 30 minutes!

    • Joe

       /  January 29, 2013

      Would have liked to see Henderson on the bench over DOC too.

      Earls could have an impact though, in fairness to him.

  13. Luc

     /  January 29, 2013

    I think we’ll definitely see Radge coming on and Sexton going to 12. That brilliant move was the precursor to the ground-breaking tactic we saw on Friday night, where the Wolfhounds had THREE outhalfs on the pitch at the same time.

  14. TJ Hooker

     /  January 29, 2013

    Agree with the above. Not sure what more Henry could have done to get in ahead of POM. Maybe he doesn’t possess the Munster man’s ‘leadership’ qualities?

  15. I would have preferred the SOB/Henry/Heaslip combination myself but I don’t think the way they’ll line out is as contentious as is being made out (if O’Mahony was at 7, it would be an outrage). And I disagree entirely with the framing of it as being a Henry vs O’Mahony call since they’re playing different positions. It seems to have been lost in the ether somewhere that Henry is a converted 8 as well.

    I’m glad he stuck with Gilroy in spite of how quiet he’s been since November (I’d have picked Fitz but its marginal) my only qualm being his defense especially against the monsters from Wales. I’m not saying he can’t defend, I just don’t know how well he defends.

    • He slipped a few tackles in November, and we’d be concerned about Cuthbert and North bearing down on him…

      Henry might be a converted 8, but he’s been the best openside in the HEC this season

      • It is a concern but they were both pretty poor in the Autumn and Wales’ approach play was poor to boot. Both were tackled into touch on separate occasions against Argentina and Imhoff and Camacho are no bigger than Gilroy. I don’t think North and Cuthbert will be as poor but there is a sense that they think all they have to do is run over people rather than use actual wing play.

        I don’t dispute Henry’s form at all, he’s been magnificent but he’s in the same boat as O’Brien with regards playing at 7 and neither are Warburton/Pocock types.

        • I’m not sure – Henry has dominated breakdown after breakdown in an Ulster shirt – SOB has never really done that, he’s a different kind of player

    • Buccaneer

       /  January 29, 2013

      Agreed, Henry can now be considered a ‘genuine; openside IMO. Can he do it internationally? He had a good enough Autumn to be given the chance certainly.

      Regarding the wings defensive shortcomings, lets face it no irish backs can stand up physically to the 2 welsh specimens. Tackle hard and low and hold on for dear life is all we can ask of them

      • Yeah, as I said the Argentinian wingers are no giants and they did just fine. If the Welsh continue to play without the skills they showed in RWC and the Grand Slam it shouldn’t be an issue.

  16. Buccaneer

     /  January 29, 2013

    If Tipuric/Sam start at six/seven we are in a heap of trouble! Murrays service is slow enough without these two lads paws all over the ball. We are going to have to be so aggressive at every breakdown.

    POM needs a massive game to justify his inclusion over Henry. Dorce had a good AI and he always looks better with his mate outside him, but i had a funny feeling Fitz might get the nod at 12. no idea why now that i think of it

    • Murray needs to be encouraged to play the game he played against Argentina. If he attacks the fringes (openside), then you suck the openside into the formed ruck. It is a selection that could work. However, he should not be used as a passing scrumhalf, as in the past. If his strengths are used, it could be good though.

      • Very much so. More than anything above, I think how Murray services Sexton will dictate how well Ireland play. He’s having a good season and has taken on increased responsibility at Munster, so I’m seeing the glass half full for the moment.

  17. @Completebore

     /  January 29, 2013

    The baffling part of the Henry selection is then putting him on the bench – he must be there as injury cover as he’s not the type of impact player who frightens teams coming on after an hour, so he’s probably there to get splinters.
    The 15 doesn’t look too bad, but the subs don’t inspire confidence that a close game could be turned to our favour – Earls maybe capable of something, but the rest aren’t game-changers.
    If Jackson/Madigan/Keatley had put in the cameoes O’Gara did in the November tests Deccie would never have them in a squad again, but best-case scenario is we’re defending a lead with 10 to go and he can kick the corners to his heart’s content.

    • Yep. Whereas POM would be a fantastic option to spring off the bench. It smacks as a 15 man selection and not a 23 man selection.

      Earls is a great player to have on the bench as cover…but as a game changer? Not so sure. Cronin and Reddan are the only two subs who could change up the game (either through ball carrying or a different type of service from the breakdown).

      • Our bennch is pretty dradrul, especially with Reddan out of form at the moment. Earls, Cronin and Henry are the only ones capable of making an impact.

  18. mikebrad

     /  January 29, 2013

    I think its a tough call on henry. On another note I’m thinking of persuing a New career as a tight head. I have no experience and can fit into an x large boys rugby shirt BUT I am Irish qualified. I reckon my chances are pretty good…

  19. Pete

     /  January 29, 2013

    I don’t want to bash O’Mahony, he’s a good player who’s been playing well, but I don’t think he’s been on Henry’s level and I don’t think there’s been many sevens north of the Equator. He’s been colossal, game after game, and I cannot see how he could have done anything more in an Ulster shirt to get that start. And if he cannot get that start under these circumstances, I cannot see what he can do other than patiently tick off the days until a new man.

    That’s before considering going up against a side with two 7s, a groundhog 8, and little in the way of a lineout.

    p.s. No I wouldn’t agree with Fez being behind O’Brien, and i doubt many Ulster fans would either, but I can certainly think of a way to fit both men into a back-row with Henry for Ireland…

  20. Len

     /  January 29, 2013

    This is a fairly safe selection. I agree that Fitzgerald or even McFadden might have offered something a bit different on one wing and i would have my doubts as to our defence out wide as it is neither wingers strongest point. In the back row I think O’Mahony will struggle and I’d have started either O’Brien or Henderson at 6 with Henry at 7. On the subs bench I’m disappointed not to see Tom Court selected, he’s in the form of his life and destroying scrums at all levels for Ulster. I wouldn’t be as worried as you are (WOC) in relation to Bent. When he played with Ireland before he managed fine and I think the issue he’s experiencing at Leinster could be down to the second row. I’m very disappointed but not surprised to see ROG yet again on the bench. I can only hope that he doesn’t produce the same apathetic performances he did during the autumn or we could be in trouble for the last quarter of the match when he’ll no doubt make an appearance.

    Murray needs to start this game as he did the game against Argentina to prove he can play that way against better opposition. I’d love to think we could put some Argentina like performances together but a very small part won’t mind if we don’t as it would hopefully seal Decci’s fate and remove any chance of the IRFU renewing his contract

  21. Tommy Kennedy

     /  January 29, 2013

    Maybe it is wishful thinking but Wales are going to have the lions share of possession so instead of picking Henry who isn’t as good as either of Wales sevens we have gone with our two best ball carrying back rows (O Brien and Heaslip) and O Mahony who is our best ball handling back row in the hope we play an off loading / keep the ball alive at all costs a la Leinster type game plan that would must suit Gilroy Zebo Sexton and Murray?

    • Haven’t we got in trouble with this approch against Wales before? Not sure we’d share the view that Wales will have the lion’s share of possession. We expect them to kick deep and try and live off turnover ball. Ireland have little record of playing an offloading game; Ireland need to mix it up and put a bit of pressure on their lineout where we can. Ordinarily, we wouldn’t advocate kicking the ball back to the other team, but they’ve an inexperienced second row, one of whom (Ollie Kohn) is a fairly earthbound 130kg.

    • Henry has played against both this season and completely dominated them and despite all the hype they garner neither is a patch on Henry. Warburton has been beyond poor. Tipuric is good but lacks the physicality of Henry.

  22. paddy

     /  January 29, 2013

    Don’t understand ppls opposition to ROG on the bench, he’ll be Lion this summer dontcha know!

    The POM Henry one is the contentious one. Do we really need an extra lineout option against a clearly weakened Welsh lineout. You’d ave to guess they’ll take as many of their lineouts quickly to reduce the impact of our own stronger one. And also not sure we need the extra ball carrier but that depends on how SOB plays. Henry has been really impressive for Ulster and would be happier to see him start.

  23. Connachtexile

     /  January 29, 2013

    I agree with you in respect to Henry but Kilcoyne on the bench in front of Court is the real tragedy imo. I don’t think Earls should be there either he doesn’t have the physicality to deal with the Welsh wingers and his form has only being so-so this season. Not sure if Fitzgerald is the right option either but he is better than Earls.

  24. jojo

     /  January 29, 2013

    Henry is an unreal scrounger and brilliant at slowing down the ball.
    Warburton is so over hyped and this notion that he’s an unreal scrounger, player who can turn over the ball needs to actually look at stats. His turnovers per game stats are poor. (sky sports did a comparison before one of the games).

    could someone tell me POM’s attributes?
    he’s not big or strong or fast! he doesnt make turnovers.
    he runs laterally.. loves handbags

    backrow should have been o’brien, heaslip and henry at 7.

    • Unfortunately there is no stat that denotes how a player slowed the ball down. Warburton had a mediocre 2012, but in 2011 he was exceptional. Is class permanent? We’ll find out in 2013!

      POM is a skilfull baller with good skills in the lineout and he has a good hand-off. Don’t get us wrong, he’s a good player, but I’m not sure we need the extra lineout man against a Welsh team who will try and imit the number of lineouts but wil be intently focused on the breakdown, with two opnsides in the team.

  25. This team has been picked to play a one-dimensional game. Deccie all but said that he won’t agree to closing the roof and has picked a pack to dominate in the lineout. WOC is absolutely correct that Wales will kick deep down the centre of the field to us as we’ve shown no signs of being able to run it back. Unlike last year my guess is that we’ll kick back! I can’t see past this being a wretched game to watch. Wales will try to dominate field position and hope for penalties at ruck and scrum time from Romain.

    As for us, who knows? It’s now become virtually impossible to know what this team will do under the current coaching regime. Was the Argentina game a once-off? If it’s tight in the second half there is no doubt that ROG will come in at 10.

    I want to be optimistic as I truly believe that Ireland should be targeting a championship win this year (as we should with England and France at home). However all evidence points to a loss and Monday morning apologists in the newspapers.

    The funny thing is that while selection is of course important, the coaching problems with this team far outweigh the call of POM over Henry…even though I think Henry should be in.

  26. Anonymous

     /  January 29, 2013

    My main worry is the two props neither of whom are great scrummagers. Also they havent got Tom Court to come on and prop it up. Great to see BOD back but how many games do you think he’ll play. Would like to have seen Madigan on the bench. Does Deccie watch the Rabo?

  27. Was it just my imagination or did Toner and Stevenson switch places in the scrum at some point in the first half? I was fairly certain this happened and the scrum seemed to function better after the 30 minute mark. I never got a chance to check, hopefully someone else can tell me.

    I wouldn’t normally be bothered about POM being included in the starting team but coupled with the extremely questionable decision to throw him a central contract I think it smacks of provincialism. I also don’t like that so many commentators referred to him as a fourth line out option in the build up to the announcement when mccarthy was never used in the AIs. He’s more than capable in the air but for some reason was not trusted to do what he does every week.

  28. Yossarian

     /  January 29, 2013

    Agree with jojo,sky compared pocock,warburton and mccaw.warburton had least meters carried,fewest turnovers and lowest tackles.he had a great World Cup but that was 18 months ago.he has been poor for Cardiff and his performance in the rds was shocking.(you would never see lions captains BOD or POC ever be so uncommitted)
    POM is 3rd best back row on Munster team and doesn’t deserve to be taking Henry’s place.Not quite a carrier,not quite a groundhog and the “chip shop brawler” thing was shown up when a South African man handled him in the brawl after heaslip was late hit by pieterson.

  29. The Scarlet Magpie

     /  January 29, 2013

    So it is very possible that Wales will go in with 2 opensides and the Irish without 1. Breakdown will be very interesting indeed

    • DaveW

       /  January 29, 2013

      This, coupled with Roman Poite being a little free-for-all when it comes to the breakdown, has me quite worried about the game. I still think we’ll edge it, but we’re really tempting fate by not having Henry on there. Sure, O’Brien is in good form since coming back, but he’d also be great as an impact sub to have to bring on.

  30. Anonymous

     /  January 29, 2013

    I hope that I’m wrong, but the selection seems a bit naive. Playing away from home you definitely need the ability to frustrate the home team early on through slow ball and a few turnovers. Against a Welsh team low on confidence and a crowd who could easily show frustration early on, this becomes even more important on saturday. Henry is our best chance of doing that but will watch the early phases from the bench. O’Mahony can try to fill this role, but he gives away too many soft penalties and this could give the welsh an early foothold.

    Even as an ulster man I don’t buy into the clamour for Gilroy to start. He had a good couple of games in the Autumn against Fiji and Argentina, but watching him since his kicking and decision making have a lot of room for improvement. The ulster coaching team prefer Trimble for a reason, but I think this selection has been somewhat forced on Deccie by the plaudits Gilroy received in November. I myself would have picked Fitzgerald, been in super form since his return and has more to his game than Gilroy.

    Finally, O Gara…..the guy is a legend, but has Deccie not seen him play this season?

  31. Abitofshoepie

     /  January 29, 2013

    ….somehow made the above be written by anonymous

  32. Rich

     /  January 29, 2013

    Henry on the bench dissappointing, he has been playing very well. POM is an excellent line out option I will give him that, whereas Henry is not, other than that, I don t see the adv esp vs Wales. POM was only visible in the Aut tests for missed tackles.

    Earls can add some bite from the bench but we could come unstuck once again vs Wales with lack of size in the wide channels. Gilroy and Zebo both had time at fullback since autumn so hope they can perform under high ball

    Lots of cause for optimism tho – their series was dire so hoping we can carry that on. Going for 26-17 Ireland win.

  33. zdm

     /  January 30, 2013

    Kidney doesn’t seem to understand team balance at all. Some times the Irish team sheet looks like he is playing fantasy rugby and just wants to get the guy that he likes best in to the shirt. We can argue the bit out about whether Henry is better than O’Brein or Trimble is better than Gilroy etc but there are a few combinations that make absolutely no sense:

    as was pointed out, both are fleet footed flyers and both are not well known as tackle-monsters. I’m a big fan of a flyer and a bosher but Kidney was always going to pick Zebo and couldn’t really pick Trimble and leave out Gilroy. The only thing that suprised me was that he didn’t pick McFadden instead of Gilroy.

    the reason O’Callaghan/O’Connell have lasted so long and seen off so many pretenders to O’Callaghan’s throne was that each man’s weaknesses were the other man’s strengths – this is what Kidney was on about when he irritated everyone with his “unseen work” quote. Ryan and McCarthy are the same man with different hair. They are probably the best two fit locks in the country but the combination lacks a certain grit. Tuohy is the obvious counterfoil to both but helped Kidders out by crocking himself. Ironically enough, Kidney should have stood by his man on this one and put in McCarthy/O’Callaghan.

    Reddan/O’Gara on the bench:
    the 9/10 axis is where a team plans and executes it’s strategy. It doesn’t matter who controls this axis as long as someone does (e.g. at Ulster, Piennar controls and Jackson executes the play, England won the world cup with Wilkinson controlling the game, leaving Dawson to snipe). Ireland have a simple decision making strategy, called GIVE THE BALL TO JOHNNY. The 9 isn’t encouraged to think, he is encouraged to pass the ball. That’s why Murray is picked with Sexton. He passes the ball and makes the odd break, is strong in defence and works hard. Reddan is a decision making 9 who would make a great foil for PJ but after Murray, the next best 9 for Sexon’s style (and ROG for that matter) is mini-Marsh – fast pass, quick breaks, DON’T THINK, PASS THE BALL TO JOHNNY. If O’Gara is on the bench then mini-Marsh has to get the nod. If Reddan is on the bench then you gotta drop in PJ.

    O’Brien over Henry:
    the rugby reasons why this is a bad decision have been poured over above but this was a poor call in terms of the leadership balance of the team. I posted previously about how our current group of forwards are a bit callow. Of the starting pack, only Besty has captained his province (and his country) in a tournament match before. This is a back that needs leadership and Heaslip needs someone to lead the pack with Best so he can get on with leading the team. Henry has captained his province, captained the Wolfhounds a number of times and seemed to be the stand-in captain for Ireland when Heaslip wasn’t on the pitch in the autumn. Even if choosing him on rugby merit’s and form is marginal (for me it isn’t he is the form back-row in the country at the minute and our most natural seven), then on leadership grounds, he is a must for this team.

  34. Termagant

     /  January 30, 2013

    O’Mahony’s selection is a joke in poor taste.Even my 14 yr old son has worked out that Richie Mcaw wouldn’t get a game for Ireland ahead of what he calls “Munster Rubs” that is to say clearly inferior players only on the pitch because of Kidney’s provincial bias.

    On the plus side, the game is now a win win because if we win we win but if we lose we win because that utter tosser will finally get his cards along with the rest of the MRs!

  35. L2B2

     /  January 30, 2013

    I haven’t read all the comments but does nobody see that POM is our only real line-option of all our back-rows? Sure SOB and Heaslip can be lifted but they are not very good in the air. Henry is not even an option for line-outs and especially with Ryan and McCarthy (neither of whom dominate especially as second row line out options) we need a third option.

  36. Anonymous

     /  January 30, 2013

    Who you pick just depends which province you come from, form doesnt come into it.

    Who should be the next Ireland coach?

    Anybody who is not from monster, Conor O’Shea but why would he want it

  37. I think there is flaws in this selection, most obviously in the backrow which for me would ideally be SOB at 6, Henry at 7 & Heaslip at 8. I also accept to a degree the point that our wings might be lightweight in defense if the form of the Welsh juggernauts improves.

    However I think there is a touch of short memories at play here. We’ve asked Kidney to give youth its head for a long time and he’s done so with this selection. There’s been little mention of that. If we look at the most controvesial picks we have 23 year old POM over 28 year old CH, 21 year old Gilroy over 28 year old Trimble & 24 year old Kilcoyne over 32 year old Tom Court. It could definitely be argued that the older players are move in form & the selection is harsh on them but it finally looks like Kidney is trying to build something for the future & I find it hard to be opposed to that.

    Plus it’s certainly a selection with try-scoring ambition, which is nice to see. Again there’s something in the argument that if our speedy backline doesn’t get service at the breakdown the selection will be exposed but the given we’re playing ball carriers against fetchers indicates we may be looking to impose our own tactics on the game & leave the breakdown to the Welsh. Again I don’t have a problem with a selection that’s attempting to dictate the pace & tactics of a game. There’s guts in that, the like of which we haven’t seen in a while

    Regarding POM, I again think it’s a little harsh to assume the Welsh line-out will be crap/underutilised ergo we needn’t cover it to this degree. Surely if you can see a weakness in your opponents game you should look to exploit that. The stats above are interesting but I assume they only cover steals rather than a disruption of clean ball & fast delivery to your opponent which can also be equally valid. Although I would prefer he wasn’t starting, POM is a great line-out operator and a great defensive option in that area given he’s light.

    I would also say that from the bench Earls certainly does has the capacity to change games. A man with his pace & eye for a gap sprung with half an hour to go?

    Regarding the second row, the two form locks have been selected who had an extremely successful AI campaign. Again there are similarities in their style of play but they really were an impressive unit in November. I think the O’Callaghan has made the bench on form (gasp!). I know he’s a player a lot of people have a problem with but he’s having a stormer of a season in Munster, a real rejuvenation. I know we laugh at his “unseen work” but to be a player who still attacks a game with such hunger at his age, that’s admirable.

    For Murray, when I watch him I sometimes wonder how much the flaws in his game are from tactics chosen by the coaching team which don’t play to his strengths. He sometimes plays as if he’s lost sight of what he’d good at. If he puts in a shift a la Argentina I’ll be happy

    I think most people here will know I’m a Munster fan but with the selection I don’t really see much bias bar O’Mahony over Henry and of course RADGE on the bench. It’s just ridiculous and I think most rugby fans the country over would be in agreement on that.

    In general, I think we’re perhaps being overly negative on a selection with potential. Again I see its flaws, we all do but I admire its spirit. The nerves are kicking in already!

    • doughballs

       /  January 30, 2013

      Always enjoy your comments Kate, keep them coming! Pretty insightful defense. I think we’re going for the setpiece too. I’d imagine we’ll take the scrum and the lineout and they’ll take the breakdown. The backline’s are fairly evenly matched with our pace in the outside three hopefully counteracting their power there. I’d imagine their centres will have a slight advantage over ours but our halfback combination should have a similar advantage over theirs. Also D’arcy and O’Driscoll with their extra-flanker act might negate some of the poaching power that Tipuric and Warburton bring. I’m really looking forward to the game and hoping for a win. I’ve a bit of a feeling about this year and hope that it’s not going to be another massive disappointment!

      • Cheers, that’s very kind of you! I was too busy in work yesterday to comment so I was mulling it all over last night. At the end of the day, while I accept people’s concerns as legitimate I think there are positives here that are being somewhat overlooked, possibly because it’s often just easier to have a moan, and possibly because we’re all a bit bruised by Deccy at this stage!

    • Indeed, I’d echo doughballs – great comment as usual Kate, we always enjoy your writing in the comment box.

      The back three is definitely excitign, and if it wasn’t the three we would have picked, well it’s certainly picked to have a go. There is a feeling of Deccie throwing off the schackles and taking a risk here, which is good – I guess he has to, because his contract is on the line in this series.

      As for the lineout, I agree we should put the Welsh unit under pressure where we can, especially with O’Mahony in the team. We’re not generally fans of kicking tactics that just hand the ball back to the opposition, but if we’re clearing our lines, let’s use the likes of Sexton, Murray, Zebo and Kearney – monster kickers all – to kick for touch and see if Wales can win their set piece ball. Last time we played Wales we kicked to their back three and then let them amble over the gain line in repeated phases. We do not want to see that again.

  38. abitofshoepie

     /  January 30, 2013

    Schmidt should be based on form, plus if he was a player he would be Irish qualified by now!

    A lower league english football team recently toyed with the idea of letting the fans vote for who should fill each position on their teamsheet. Maybe the IRFU would let Whiff of Cordite posters pick the team, it would save them a bit of cash..

  39. jojo

     /  January 30, 2013

    The game is not going to be won or lost at the lineout, but the breakdown.
    with a bit of variety , all 3 of the backrow can be used as jumpers, so i do not agree POM should be in because of this one reason. henry is far better tackler/scrounger and clearing rucks. POM does have a good hand off as mentioned, but next time he’s doing it, watch as he goes laterally and with one person tackling him at his feet. ie, its not effective, doesnt really get over the gain line and rarely makes clean line breaks.
    i think SOB at 6, henry at 7 has balance. and can let our best ball carrier , carry!
    why bring in one, who’s less effectual and other facets of his game arent particulaly strong!

  40. Mary Hinge

     /  January 30, 2013

    Am very disappointed to see O’Mahony chosen ahead of Henry. A nonsensical selection. We trade a world-class scavenger for a guy who may win us some line-out ball, but as sure as apples are apples will give away penalties which a kicker as good as Halpenny will punish. Wish I’m wrong, but……………………..

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