The Mystery of the IRFU Succession Rules

Around a year ago, the IRFU announced its ‘succession rules’, whereby it would restrict non-Irish qualified players to one per field position across the provinces, and operate on a ‘one-contract-and-out’ basis.  The idea was to ensure at least two Irish-eligible players were playing first team rugby in each position across the three major provinces.  They were announced to general bafflement among a public that has become deeply loyal to their province of choice.  The IRFU hosted a twitter Q&A session, where they gave infuriatingly vague replies to fans who were wondering what on earth was going on, but failed to generate any goodwill or provide satisfactory responses.  It was one of the biggest PR gaffs the union has made in recent memory, up there with their ticket pricing policy for the November 2010 internationals.

Curiously – or maybe not so curiously – since the initial furore which greeted announcement, we’ve had radio silence on the issue.  Isa Nacewa was allowed to sign a one-year extension, apparently at odds with the rules; keeping him in Leinster until 2014, a year after the rules are apparently meant to come in. And today, Ulster announced Johann Muller was staying until the end of next season.

In the case of Nacewa and, especially, Muller, both are keeping young Irish players out of the team, seemingly at odds with the rules – both might be the highest-profile NIQs in their position, but we simply don’t know if that was a criterion in their contract offer.

Confused?  You’re not the only one.

The quietude around the rules has led people to ask: are they still going ahead?  We’re in the dark as much as anyone else over this.  It would be no surprise if they were quietly folded away and put to bed without any fanfare or announcement.  Another possibility is that the IRFU maintains they’re going ahead, with vigorous affirmations of the importance of adherence, but only enforces them selectively – that is to say, in actuality they don’t enforce them at all, but pretend they do in order to save face.

It looks like this will come to a real head quite soon, as Munster and Ulster’s NIQ tighthead props are making noises about leaving.  Tighthead prop was really the only position the rules were brought in to cater for, because as everyone knows, Mike Ross is the only Irish-qualified prop starting important games for his province, and it’s the only position where Ireland are so dependent on one player.

At Munster, BJ Botha is rumoured to be moving to Toulon, where he has been offered a two-year contract, while Ulster’s John Afoa has mentioned in a recent interview that he plans to return to New Zealand at the end of his contract, which expires in the summer of 2014.

Under the succession rules, Munster would be precluded from recruiting a foreign tighthead for next season, since NIQ players must be replaced by Irish eligible players once their contract has lapsed.  Ulster, similarly, would not be allowed to recruit an NIQ player the following season, once John Afoa departs.  But does anyone really believe the IRFU will hamper the provinces so severely?  It strikes us as unlikely.

The foremost Irish tightheads at Munster and Ulster are Stephen Archer and Declan Fitzpatrick.  Neither would be fit for the purpose of mounting a challenge for the Heineken Cup.  Fitzpatrick can lock a scrum, but is rarely match-fit, while Archer struggles to cope with even moderately technical opponents in the set-piece.  If both provinces are to have aspirations of beating the better French or English sides, some recruitment will be required.

The only Irish-eligible tighthead who looks a remotely plausible signing is Worcester’s Belfast-born John Andress.  Ploughing away in the Worcester front row may not sound like the stuff of greatness, but the Aviva Premiership is a set-piece-heavy league, packed with hardy scrummagers (Andress’ regular opponents in the scrum would include the likes of Soane Tongauiha, Alex Corbisiero, Marcos Ayerza and Joe Marler – not exactly wallflowers).

Andress has had something of a journeyman career so far, but has amassed plenty of gametime since he moved to England.  He made 44 appearances in the Championship for Exeter Chiefs, before moving up a level to the Premiership with Harlequins in 2009.  He made 30 starts for Harlequins over two seasons before returning to the Chiefs, but found his path to the first team blocked on returning.  He’s started 10 games and made eight further appearances from the bench for Worcester this season.  He might find his opportunities slightly more limited in the rest of the season, with Euan Murray having pitched up at Sixways.  That he has never been deemed essential by some fairly mediocre clubs is a mark against him, but his CV is several notches up from that of Archer or Fitzpatrick.

His is a solid body of work, and his career path looks suspiciously similar to that of Mike Ross.  That doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll be as good as Mike Ross, but at 29, he should be coming into his prime as a scrummager.  If the IRFU do decide to persist with their ill-conceived succession rules, he can expect his value to increase sharply.

But even if Andress is the answer – and there’s no guarantee he would be – there’s only one of him, and two provinces for whom the issue of recruitment is pressing.  If the IRFU is going to go ahead with its ill-advised move, and enact it to the letter, it is going to have to choose between Munster and Ulster and seriously weaken one of them.

Prop recruitment in general has been a mixed bag among the provinces in recent years.  Botha has delivered good value for both Ulster and Munster over five highly productive seasons, while Afoa has been consistently outstanding for Ulster.  Nathan White, as a stop-gap for Leinster and now at Connacht, is another success story.  But then there are the Clint Newlands, Peter Borlases and latterly, Michael Bents, whose careers in Ireland have been stillborn.

Even if Ulster and Munster are given the licence to recruit, there are no guarantees of quality, and competition for the best will be fierce from the Top 14 in particular, where clubs think nothing of having six first-rate props on their books, and rotating them over the season – the best props coming from the Southern Hemisphere will get hoovered up by the French clubs, as will the French ones (obviously) and the Georgians. The English ones aren’t going to come to Ireland. So, essentially, to replace Afoa and Botha with NIQ props will not only break the IRFU’s own rules, but be hugely expensive into the bargain, as we will be competing with Toulon, Clermont and Racing Metro.

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65 Comments

  1. nick

     /  February 5, 2013

    Would someone mind describing the difference in skillsets between a tighthead and a loosehead props?

  2. Len

     /  February 5, 2013

    I understand the IRFU wanting to limit the number of foreign players playing for the provinces as obviously these will generally keep young Irish players out of first team positions, but I feel that the rules as they stand are not the way to achieve this. Foreign players do also deliver some positives apart from making our provincial teams more competitive in certain positions. They bring in different experience be it top 14, super rugby, or Premiership. They can approach the game in a different way and this can then rub off on the young players in the squad. Think of the impact Rocky had at Leinster and the fact that SOB played in a very similar fashion in his break through year. I agree with limiting the amount of foreign players but I think that the way in which its done needs to be different.

  3. anoonamous

     /  February 5, 2013

    Won’t nathan white be Irish by 2014? Not exactly what Connacht want to hear but…

    • Yes, which makes it more frustrating that Leinster were forced to let him go and then – as it seems – strong-armed into signing Bent (who has so far distinguished himself by utter incompetence in the scrum sadly). Yet another bad mark against the IRFU from a Leinster fan perspective.

      • Rava

         /  February 5, 2013

        “Yet another bad mark against the IRFU from a Leinster fan perspective”
        One would have to think that it was the SH Leinster coaches that advised the IRFU with regard to Bent?

      • It is equally as plausible that an approach was made by the IRFU over the summer tour. Given the way he was parachuted straight into the Ireland squad on arrival, and played for Ireland before Leinster, this seems just as plausible. Anyway, whoever gave the advice, it should never be trusted again.

        In the meantime, Leinster have lost a half-decent tighthead and gained a kook.

      • Rava

         /  February 5, 2013

        Can’t argue with either of your last two comments.

    • zdm

       /  February 5, 2013

      You’ve hit the nail on the head here anoonamous. If the IRFU decide to go with their atrocious player sucession rules, Connacht fans should brace themselves.

      Its started already – the IRFU were staring down the barrel of a gun of their own making this year when they belatedly realised they would have two provinces who would be in need of a HC standard lock this summer. The kicked the can down the road by “forgetting” that the high veldt wasn’t in the Mournes and letting Captain Yoplait stay at Ulster and by dithering long enough to allow Leinster to do the obvious and nick McCarthy from Connacht.

      While the idea behind the sucession rules are well meaning, they are a disaster in practice, particularly in the development of front/2nd row plaers.
      A tight 5 player will hit his prime in his late 20’s/early 30’s but it takes years of graft and experience to get there and for every one international-standard player, there are 5+ who never make it past 1-2 years of domestic rugby.
      Front rows and locks rarely burst on to the scene fresh out of schools rugby – take Mike Ross as an example. He grafted away for years with no notion of playing HC or international rugby before becoming an irreplacable member of the squad.

      The way I see it, the IRFU has 3 options here:

      1) Haphazardly apply their own rules and asset-strip Connacht to serve the other 3 provinces ever time a bright young thing comes along
      2) Develop a real professional player management scheme, led by a professional rugby head, rather than the selection-by-blazer set up we currently have
      3) Trust that the provinces are not part of a masonic conspiracy to rule the world and let them manage their own affairs

      Unfortunately, these are placed in order of likelyhood and the chances of any option other than 1 being applied are as slim as Deccies chances of being invited over to Tom Court’s house for tea and buns.

      • ZDM if you stripped your comment of the Connacht chip-on-your-shoulder straw men nonsense (notably the asset-stripping BS, which we all know very well works very much both ways), you would have a couple of good points, notably on:
        – the need to “develop a proper professional player management scheme, led by a professional rugby head” (I presume you mean the Humph?); and
        – the need to actually support the provinces and believe that their success is in the interest of the national game (and not against it’s interest).

        Unfortunately, as it is, your comment hurts my eyes.

      • zdm

         /  February 5, 2013

        Just to clarify what I mean by the asset stripping comment:

        The IRFU have been reasonably clear that they consider connact to be a development team (whether we agree with them is a different conversation). They have also made them exempt from the NIQ rules applied to the 3 other teams.

        Therefore, if they suddenly find that a team needs a specific position filled at short notice, but they are precluded from signing a NIQ and don’t have a player of sufficient quality on their own books, the quick fix is to nick am Irishman from out west and drop in a cheap NIQ to the Connact side.

        As an Ulster fan, I would be fairly neutral on the issue of whether the flow is in or out of Connact – we have a record of sending youngsters down to the dog track for a few years and then deciding whether to call them back.

      • What would you think of the IRFU stripping Ulster of their massive asset in the Humph?

      • Amiga500

         /  February 5, 2013

        “The kicked the can down the road by “forgetting” that the high veldt wasn’t in the Mournes”

        Ah, sure its just up the road from me… The Highveld is beside Spelga dam!

      • zdm

         /  February 5, 2013

        If they took the Humph for the national team/set up, I’d be ok with it. If they took him to work at Munster, I’d cry in to my tiny red and white tea cup.

        Humph would be my first choice, particularly in a Rob Andrew, minister-without-portfolio type role but Conor O’Shea would be another ideal candidate especially if the role was more hands on

      • Bowe gathers

         /  February 5, 2013

        The truth (hopefully) is that the humph would see through such a poisened chalice and turn down any contract that didn’t allow him carte blanche. At this stage I’m so anti the perceived red bias from Kidney that I can’t reasonably expect Munster fans to feel differently about Humphreys. Sadly I think we need either a foreign coach oran Irishman practising abroad.

    • Makes no difference to Connacht fans, he’s contracted until summer 2015.

      • Sorry, to be clear, I mean Nathan White is signed to Connacht until summer 2015. As are Buckley, Loughney, Wilkinson, and a host of others like Henshaw, Harris-Wright etc. So “asset stripping” Connacht is off the menu until well after the new rules (supposedly) kick in.

  4. Add to the debate on props above the fact that Leinster have announced they are looking to sign a new NIQ outhalf (as reported today: http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/sport/2013/0205/1224329657685.html), and the IRFU’s ‘strategy’ looks even more bizarre.

    Leinster were not able to keep their best player – because they had not control over his contract. Ireland lost control a central cog in its team ahead of the RWC in 2 years. Leinster now have to sign an NIQ. Where is the sense in that?

    In terms of props. Leinster were not allowed to keep Nathan White – who was promising and will be IQ next year. Then we were dumped with Michael Bent, who is unfortunately not at the races. What is the overarching national strategy in this if there is one?

    It seems that – after a successful decade and a half of managing the transition to the professional era – the union is totally clueless. It does not know what to do. The sooner it addresses its own internal deficiencies, the better. There is a real risk it may inflict damage on the provinces, as well as the national side, if remedial action is not taken.

  5. Len

     /  February 5, 2013

    I think that Bent’s main problem (apart from having Toner behind him most times he plays) is simple exhaustion. He played the season in NZ, finished and then got a plane for Ireland where he was immediately thrown into the national set up with no break. Since then he’s been on for Leinster in matches with no real break. I’d imagine that if we made Rosser play solidly until August that things might start to slip. Next season we’ll be better able to judge how he goes. I wonder who’s on the out half short list. I heard rumours of Gitteau, Ashley-cooper and drew Mitchell all being potential targets. Wouldn’t be that impressed by any of them.

    • If you wouldn’t be impressed by Giteau, you’d be a tough one to impress Len.

      • Leinsterlion

         /  February 5, 2013

        Gits was let go from Aus for a reason, I’d rather see a high level ITM cup signing like Baden Kerr etc. tbh i’d put more effort about replacing Carr and Conway with a high level international.

      • You wouldn’t kick him out for farting on the team bus though…and he has done ok at Toulon. Personally, I would want a solid player, with some experience, who can bring Madigan on and play big games. Not someone to keep Madigan back.

      • Leinsterlion

         /  February 5, 2013

        I just think Giteau would.
        A.Cost too much.
        B.Possibly shade Madigan and take his place for the big games.
        The likes of a Steven Brett or someone of that caliber, super rugby good, but below international class is needed imho.

    • TJ Hooker

       /  February 5, 2013

      Well if Drew Mitchell is on the out-half short-list, whatever about AAC, then things are really bad.

    • Rava

       /  February 5, 2013

      Ian Keatley isn’t getting a great deal of game time down Limerick way. Maybe Leinster will cast a gaze towards the South-west……………

  6. ORiordan

     /  February 5, 2013

    Andress wasn’t originally offered a full time contract with Ulster because of attitude issues… (allegedly…) After he had spent some time playing in England, Ulster made approaches again and these fell through because it became apparent that some of the attitude issues were still there (allegedly…)

    After seeing the impact that player “attitude” issues had on the Ulster towards the end of his playing career, David Humphreys seems determined that the players he recruits will fit and buy into the team ethos and this seems to have been a factor behind the departure of players like Caldwell and Kyriacou.

    Because of this, I don’t know if Ulster would try for Andress a third time… however Frankie Sheahan’s reaction would be priceless if Andress did join Munster and leapfrogged Steven Archer.

  7. Len

     /  February 5, 2013

    I agree CE a player to bring on Madigan would be good. I don’t want to see someone come in as just a straight replacement for JS. The question is who’s out there that matches that profile? As for keatley surly it must be dawning on Munster that the penny set up works better with him at the helm rather than ROG?

    • I see what you’re saying. ROG’s contract is up at the end of the season, so bring him to Leinster – right?

      • Len

         /  February 6, 2013

        I’m pretty sure he’d burst into flames the minute the Leinster jersey touched him.

      • If he didn’t spontaneously combust I can think of a few Leinster fans I know who might actually lynch him, if the mere sight of him in blue didn’t cause them to drop dead of a heart attack

  8. L.P.O.

     /  February 5, 2013

    It occurs to me that limiting the number of foreign players plying their trade in Ireland mightn’t be a terrible idea in theory, if it were implemented sensibly. However, it would need to be done in conjunction with a rule that would keep the best Irish players here too. There’s not much sense in making space for Irish talent to play and develop, if the best of that talent has gone abroad. Now, as we know, the I.R.F.U. have been operating under the (traditional for this country) wink and a nudge rule – so if this were implemented as it stands, and the feared drain of talent were not remain unaddressed, in theory we could end up with 3 mediocre/developmental I.-Q. players and perhaps one sub-par foreigner in every starting position across the 4 provinces on match day. Not ideal. Clearly something has to be done on both fronts. It sometimes seems that they don’t really consider the consequences of their actions/inaction.

  9. Brendan Fanning has written a piece on this today. It seems our assertion that the IRFU will selectively implement the rules (whch is to say they won’t implement them at all) is the most likely outcome. Just don’t expect a mea culpa from the IRFU.

    http://brendanfanningrugby.wordpress.com/2013/02/05/irfus-succession-strategy-unofficially-mullered/

    • Anonymous

       /  February 5, 2013

      And after all the fuss,,, Afoa heads home in summer 2014 looking for another WC medal; 3 of the provinces have TH fully staffed by IQ players (Andress & Fitzpatrick; Ross & Bentlase/A.N.Other; White & Loughney) while Archer is 7th choice Irish number 3? There may be a bit of sucking it up to be done in the next year and a half, but at least it looks like it’ll get sorted by 2015.

      • That’s the tighthead crisis sorted then! Not sure it’ll be as easy as that. I’ve a feeling we’ll be waiting for the two kiddos at Leinster – Tadgh Furlong and Martin Moore – to get up the curve before we’re over this particular hump.

  10. ORiordan

     /  February 5, 2013

    Another point – the IRFU “rules” could have been vulnerable to legal challenge if they were applied to an EU citizen. There certainly wasn’t a shortage of rent-a-lawyers telling the press this was the case,

    Whether this is true or not, I don’t know, but the IRFU may have decided that they didn’t want to risk finding out in court.

  11. Anonymous

     /  February 5, 2013

    http://www.irishrugby.ie/news/25137.php
    I posted extensively at the time that their language was interesting – note the use of the word ‘principle’
    Moral of the story (to my eyes) is that subtlety is dangerous in the Irish rugby media

  12. Rich

     /  February 6, 2013

    Tough to see how this has benefitted anyone – Bent has gone from being the heir apparent to a nobody – now we are pinning our hopes on Andress? When is Afoa Irish qualified……

  13. zdm

     /  February 6, 2013

    I wonder how many Americans who didn’t quite make it as defensive ends or centres in the NFL who could be persuaded to check the roster on Ellis island and “find their roots” in the 6 nations?

    • Len

       /  February 6, 2013

      You could be on to some thing there ZDM. In effect all you really need your tight head to do is scrum, tackle, clear out and lift in a lineout. Bar the lineout lifting the rest should come as second nature to some NFL washouts.

  14. Curate's Egg

     /  February 6, 2013

    I sincerely hope that when Sunday’s team is announced on Friday, Kidney takes the time to remove his head from his arse and bring in Henry, Reddan and Fitzgerald for O’Mahony, Murray and Zebo respectively. When one looks past Zebo’s fluke, oops I mean flick, you will find a deeply average player. Also, Murray seems have added indiscipline to usual turn in substandard kicking and passing. O’Mahony is a penalty machine and a complete liability to the team. With Farrell on the England team, I expect that O’Mahony will get found out for the huge liability he is. I realise that this is tantamount to a Munster purge but it is essential for a victory on Sunday. I was schooled in Munster and I can testify that, one golden generation aside, the province simply does not turn out the talent that provinces like Leinster do. This is true of every every age level also but starts in school where the basic skill levels of Munster schoolboys are typically found lacking against the large Leinster schools. I call DK and the IRFU to ditch the approach of selecting a few token Munster boys to appease the bogshites in the South and pick the best XV available….

    • Reddan has no form to speak of – we’d ditch him from the bench and bring in Marshall. Also, little value in dropping Murray just when his partnership with Sexton is beginning to bear fruit.

      While we aren’t quite swooning over Zebo the way some are, there is no denying he has come on hugely as a player this season – he is in the team for his scoring threat out wide, not his flicks. His defence certainly has room to improve. If Fitzgerald could come in for either wing, it would be for Gilroy, whose kicking was poor. Still, nothing to be gained from cutting him after 2 starts is there?

      On POM, we certainly share some of your frustrations, and believe a SOB/Henry/Heaslip backrow offers more. O’Mahony has a great first half, but was fortunate that his questionable tackling technique wasn’t exposed in the last 30 as Wales got more go-forward ball. Also, comparing Henry and POM’s tackle stats is pointless – they played in differene positions in their time on the pitch. Having said all that, was POM’s performance good enough to keep his place? We’d say yes

    • Hey. Hand off my moniker!!!

  15. Not Michael bent

     /  February 6, 2013

    It’s only vaguely related to this post, but I’m really starting to get very tired of all the anti-Michael Bent comments.

    I’m not saying he is going to become John Afoa (or even Mike Ross), but there are a number of things people have to bear in mind;

    As Len said above, he came straight from one season in NZ into international rugby, so clearly he’s going to be knackered (and dealing with a massive jump in quality).

    Secondly, he has been parachuted in mid-season. If the way I read the Byrne/Visagie articles, it’s really not a plug and play position. He was dropped into the scrum, playing alongside a hooker, and in front of a pack, he has maybe trained a couple of times with. He’s automatically going to be at a massive disadvantage in not having a pre-season with his new teammates.

    • Not Michael bent

       /  February 6, 2013

      Thirdly (and continuing in a reply as my previous message sent before my rant was over), and related to the change in country, the timing must be completely different. How a ref deals with a scrum in an NPC game is going to be totally different to how one does in the Northern hemisphere.

      If anyone out there can recall Stan Wright’s first few games for Leinster, the response (particularly from George Hook) was vicious- this was the worst prop who has ever played in this country, apparently. He took a while, got settled and now, were it not for a handful of caps for the Cook Islands, we’d be talking about Mike Ross as the backup.

      It’s just pretty much unfair on Bent to be expected to be an overnight saviour. He may end up being utterly a waste of time and money, but let’s give the lad 12 months to adjust .

      • Leinsterlion

         /  February 6, 2013

        Spot on with the Stan comparison. Methinks its just bitter comments from people pining for John Hayes

      • Bit of an unnecessary dig there Leinster Lion, leave John Hayes & his fans out of this! The biggest complaints I’ve heard about Michael Bent have come from Leinster fans. Totally understandable they’ve the most at stake.

        Fair points from Not Michael Bent. The man himself must have whiplash for being bounced from saviour to dud so quickly. He may not be Cobus Visagie but he may turn out to be perfectly competent when it all levels out

  16. toro toro

     /  February 6, 2013

    Hear hear. The eagerness with which some have leaped to write off a 26-year old who looked very much the part against South Africa is astonishing. One commenter on this board seems to have it particularly in for him, shoe-horning a mention of Bent’s supposed ineptitude into virtually any comment on any topic.

  17. Rich

     /  February 6, 2013

    Tut Tut – now who are we to believe is the real curate? Answers on a postcard.

    Murray and Zebo were much improved vs Wales, Luke F has had some spark in Rabo games but enough top warrant a start ahead of Zebo, who has been excellent? No. Redden is slower that previous years – once you write off Murrays attempts as what we would call a box kick (he seems to just hoof it and run after it), the rest of his game was solid, much of our go forward in the 1st half was due to his movement and quickish ball. Wondering what the panel think of the option of Paul Marshall in last 20 mins – bit of pace, different player to what we have, although -ve would be no gametime with sexton???

    • Marshall wasn’t all that good when starting against Castres, or for the Wolfhounds when the English were very awake to his attempted breaks. He’s done brilliantly for Ulster as a last-quarter substitute when his pace tells (and his jockey-like build doesn’t), but would you really want him on after 20 minutes if (God forbid) Murray got a knock? As a starting player I’d rate hime behind Reddan, Boss, Marmion and Stringer.

      • You raise an interesting dilemma. Do you build your bench for maximum last-quarter impact, or for worst-case injury scenario? Ours looks to be the latter. As you say, if Sexton or Murray got injured after 10 minutes, you’d want Reddan or ROG (just about, but still) to take their place. But if you want someone to come on and change a game if you’re trailing by four with 20 to go, up you’d go for Marshall and Madigan. Same goes for the second row, with DOC the safe pair of hands, but Henderson the potentially explosive impact player.

      • I think you’ve hit on something really interesting there that would be worth an article in itself. People tend to moan & groan when a safe pair of hands is selected over an impact player but should catastrophe strike, would often be the first to condemn a shallow bench in post-match analysis

      • I guess that depends on the fixture. I’d say England, given the physical nature of the contest and the fact that 4 of the last 6 years have resulted in one side or the other getting spacked out the gate long before the last quarter, is a Safe-Pair-Of-Hands bench selection.
        The France game, on the other hand, has seen a draw and 4 close encounters in the last 6, so that’s definitely one where you’d stack the bench with impact subs.

      • *spanked* out the gate, apologies for my appalling typing. Though getting “spacked” sounds painful too.

  18. Not Michael bent

     /  February 7, 2013

    Was that not really part of the issue (for the second half) this weekend too?

    Darcy picked up his injury early on, which left the options of O’Gara or Earls. Prior to the game, my mates and I all agreed that regardless of the score, ROG would come on for Darcy after 60-odd minutes, but when the injury came earlier than that, Kidney clearly decided he didn’t trust the combination ofROG at 10, Sexton at 12 for the entire second half (and the inevitable defensive stand that would follow).
    I sincerely believe Earls was intended to cover the back three and maybe 13, and after the injury, Deccie had a bit of a panic attack and threw him in at 12. I was genuinely shocked he didn’t at least slide BOD into 12 and Earls at 13, but the net result was ROG never got on.

    If he had gone for a less conservative option (Luke Marshall/Paddy Jackson covering both 10 and 12, Earls everybody else) (And yes, I know Marshall was injured, but if he weren’t, do you think Kidney would have considered in anyway?), would that have been safer?

    Makes you kind of miss Paddy Wallace, doesn’t it? Never thought I’d say that

  19. Anonymous

     /  February 7, 2013

    Does anyone else think our tighthead, problems would be a lot closer to being solved if when promising young props, who get to under 18/20 representative level are often shipped out and replaced by flankers/number 8’s who are deemed too short or fat for the back row but suitable for the 1 or 3 jerseys?

  20. Rich

     /  February 8, 2013

    So thats where we are then?Worrying about players getting injured to select our bench? Surely then we should have a bench of just props, incase our 1st choice, 2nd choice, 3rd choice props get injured after 10 mins? Cynical i know but 15/1 chance of anyone getting injured on the park.

    At intl level bench is about who will change the game and most probably win it for us. Is Redden going to do that? No ROG? Def no – he does what he likes. Marshall i thought did well in a tight game vs Castres, well worth a shot, again, pace, eye for a gap, kill keep us on front foot. Same with a guy like Madigan or Keatley – can play the game we want to play. I have no issue with Earls covering positions as long as he can add a spark – more than likely BOD will needa rest and since Cave continues to be treated so badly by the Ire set up – Earls will always be present. Fitz maybe knocking but not one of the “untouchables” (Munster players)

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