Caution Swinging In Wind At Carton House

In a move which is going to rock the nation, Declan Kidney has selected Paddy Jackson at 10 ahead of one-time stalwart Ronan O’Gara. The team line-up also features a debut for Ulster’s Luke Marshall, a wing slot for Keith Earls, and a surprising, but not illogical, return to the side for Tom Court, who leapfrogs Munster’s David Kilcoyne.

We’ve reservations about the 10, but it’s a positive, forward-looking selection, and not before time.  Had Kidney been more far-sighted in any series up to now we mightn’t be in such a precarious position, but we are where we are, so we may as well enjoy the rollercoaster ride.

The news will be dominated by ROG’s snub. It’s a call on a par with his now legendary move to bring Tomas O’Leary and Denis Hurley in for Peter Stringer and Shaun Payne, which resulted in Munster winning the Heineken Cup in style. Will this have the same effect?

If making Jamie Heaslip captain and keeping Craig Gilroy in the team gave the impression that Kidney has been emboldened by having entered the last-chance saloon, this decision certainly confirms it. No more Mr. Conservative; when you’ve nothing to lose you may as well gamble with abandon. Two debutants in midfield in a Six Nations game? Last year’s Kidney would have baulked. But now he knows his only chance of an extension is to appear to be tomorrow’s man, and he’s going for it.  All that said, ROG in his scurrent form could no longer be seen as a safe option, and would arguably have been a bigger gamble.  But perception will be that Kidney has ‘gambled’ on Jackson.

Taking the key call at face value, Kidney just couldn’t start ROG in this match. The overwhelming majority of pundits were happy to put forward the ‘blind faith’ argument, that ROG was ROG and would therefore play well by a sort of ROG-O-Magic that rewinds the clocks to 2008. But any reasoned analysis showed that wasn’t likely. The player has been in decline for some time now (and we re-iterate that there is no disgrace in that – there are not many other almost-36 year old skinny-limbed 10s playing test rugby).

There are shades of Tomas O’Leary’s pre-World Cup here. O’Leary only had to play a notch above terrible in the last warm-up match against France to get himself to the World Cup, but couldn’t even do that. Similarly, on Saturday night against Scarlets, ROG just had to turn up and show something – ANYTHING! – to get himself into the 10 shirt, but couldn’t  If O’Gara had picked up a mild cold on Saturday afternoon and sat out the game, he’d be starting this weekend. When he was demoted for Sexton, it was because Sexton played himself onto the team; here ROG has played himself out.

Which brings us to the other element of the decision – the replacement, Paddy Jackson. Jackson hasn’t exactly been kicking the door down to get picked as a test starter. His form has been patchy since November, while Madigan has been resurgent since returning to the more familiar role of fly-half at Leinster. Jackson has presumably got the nod because he has played more at Heineken Cup level (seven starts, including a final, versus Madigan’s five, of which four were at full-back), was in camp in November when Madigan was not, and offers a more structured game than the mercurial Madigan. In short he’s more of a Kidney player.

Whether he’s a better player, or the right man for this game, remains to be seen. Madigan has 70 appearances for Leinster, and has 15 tries to his name in that time. It’s a heck of a premium to put on some time in camp and a handful of H-Cup appearances, none of which Jackson has particularly dominated, compared with Madigan’s form, exceptional passing range, place-kicking, try-scoring and temperament.  One mind-boggling element of the whole thing is that Ulster were not instructed to let Jackson take over place-kicking duties against Zebre last Friday night.  It’s something he’s struggled with this season and he will be asked to step up to a more pressurised environment and convert penalties on Sunday.

It all rather brings to mind the line in Talking Heads’ ‘Once in a Lifetime’, where David Byrne says “And you may ask yourself, How did I get here?”. Everyone with eyes in their head could see ROG was on his way out over the last 12 months – whatever lines we were fed by pundits – but the decision to prepare for this day was continually kicked down the road. It was patently obvious in the summer that Ian Madigan should have been in the touring party, and it was as clear as night follows day that Madigan and Jackson should have got gametime in November.  Take it away, David Byrne: “And you will say to yourself: My God!  What have I done!”

Now a young fly-half is in at the deep end. It’s not the first time this has happened; management delayed promoting Mike Ross right up until the moment all other options were exhausted. If Madigan had been in camp in November, perhaps Kidney would trust him to play the more structured game he wants – but he wasn’t, and it’s Jackson who has got the nod.

Is this the end for ROG?  Probably.  If Jackson plays well, he can cement his place in the 23 when Sexton returns.  Once Kidney drops the hatchet on one of his staples, they rrely make any sort of meaningful return (Stringer played precisely zero minutes in the three H-Cup knockout matches in 2008 after being dropped), and should a new coach arrive next season, it’s hard to see him having a place for a 36 year old 10.

Moving on to the rest of the changes, Earls at wing is probably the least contentious – you could make a strong case for Luke Fitzgerald or Andrew Trimble, but Earls looked good against England, and Scotland fall off tackles – he offers us a chance to impose ourselves on the game by running at the Scots. It’s a marginal call, but a good one.

Luke Marshall’s selection has been long-flagged – Kidney is a fan, fast-tracking him into the November camp like he was from Cork. Niggly injuries have prevented him taking Paddy Wallace’s place in Ulster, but all indications were that he was ahead of the veteran before he broke a finger prior to the Glasgae game in January. Marshall’s pace, hands and distribution are good, and his defence solid, although his kicking game is ordinary. He may be about the only specialist 12 still standing, but we think he’s a good, and forward-looking, choice – the real deal, a player who can have a long career in the shirt and is not just a stop gap.

There appears to be some contention about Tom Court’s selection, but, for us, the only questionable aspect is that he was behind Dave Kilcoyne up to now. Court has been one of Ulster’s best players this season, and their scrum has destroyed all-comers. We thought that if O’Gara played, Court simply had to play to enable a strong scrum to try and generate three-pointers; whereas if Madigan played, the more mobile Kilcoyne was the better bet. But since Jackson more or less splits the difference between the two in terms of style, it makes more sense to judge the two against each other, and given the value placed on scrummaging ability, Court is simply better than Kilcoyne right now.

IRELAND (Possible): Kearney; Gilroy, O’Driscoll, Marshall, Earls; Jackson, Murray; Court, Best, Ross, O’Callaghan, Ryan, O’Mahony, O’Brien, Heaslip (capt). Replacements: Kilcoyne, Cronin, Fitzpatrick, Toner, Henderson, Reddan, O’Gara, Fitzgerald

P.S. we posted about Ulster’s incredible recent crop of youngsters in reference to the opening Aviva game a while back – there will be four full caps among the Ulstermen come Saturday, and only NWJMB Iain Henderson will be without a Test start.

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85 Comments

  1. jojo

     /  February 20, 2013

    This thread is going to have few comments as there are no points to contend. couldnt agree more

  2. abitofshoepie

     /  February 20, 2013

    Good post, Madigan would be my man. I just hope that we score plenty of tries, Jackson’s kicking off the tee for Ulster this year hasn’t been the greatest. Maybe Deccie thinks Jackson is Pienaar?

  3. Scrumdog

     /  February 20, 2013

    Other than….. O’Mahony has to up his work rate and stop ‘seagulling’. His tackle count has been very low so far.
    Where is the sense in having an ‘off form’ O’Gara on the bench, if not deemed ‘in form’ enough to start? Madigan could hardly have a worse impact than ROG has had from the bench and may even open up the game with his line breaks!

  4. Xyz

     /  February 20, 2013

    I’ve criticised Kidney a fair bit in the past (who in Ireland hasn’t at this stage?) but I did say coming in to this that if he played anyone at 10 other than ROG for this one I’d be a happy man. And he has; the fact that he is pairing him with another new and and exciting player in Marshall is the icing on the cake.

    So I feel I can’t get behind you when you say Kidney is only doing this as his back is to the wall and he has nothing to lose (even though it looks like you may be right). Nor can I complain that Madigan should have been in the mix (though he should have). I can only rejoice that I can go into the weekend looking forward to this game. CMON IRELAND.

  5. Len

     /  February 20, 2013

    Delighted that Decci is finally making the changes we all know we’re required. My one concern is Jackson’s lack of kicking practice. Having said that I’d much prefere to see Jackson there than the shadow of a former great. The call on Luke Marshall is also a positive step forward as is returning Earls to his correct position.

  6. montigol

     /  February 20, 2013

    I’m shocked that Kidney has seen fit to almost bin ROG and am happy for Jackson and Marshall in particular at their call-ups. However once we heard last night that the three Ulster lads were called in (strategic leak? Off The Ball knew last night. That doesn’t seem to happen usually) I still felt no more love for the Kidney project. I do not wish him or the Irish team ill, but there’s no way a contract extension should be considered. Staleness, inconsistency and lack-of-foresight are becoming his legacy rather than a splendid Grand Slam season sadly.

  7. montigol

     /  February 20, 2013

    PS, he could have just picked the Leinster backline plus Earls if he wanted some cohesion and some more reliable goalkickers. Got Schmidt in for two/three sessions to run the moves with Earls.

    Reddan/Madigan/Fitzgerald/McFadden/O’Driscoll/Earls/Kearney. Undo-able cos of politics of it though.

  8. Alex

     /  February 20, 2013

    May I simply add a woot woot to the above.

    We may lose this but I’m no longer down about the prospect. Next RWC ain’t far off and this is a belated step in the right direction instead of another wasted game with the same players chasing fading title hopes.

  9. Anonymous

     /  February 20, 2013

    What are you on montigol ???

    • montigol

       /  February 20, 2013

      Madigan or Jackson seems to be a toss up. Madigan has played better Rabo stuff at 10, but Jackson has played bigger games, including a H-Cup final and seems to be pre-ordained by virtue of his JWC pull-out and Fiji nod.

      It’s hardly lunacy to suggest the hard-running, pacey, placekicking McFadden at 12, quick-passing and already Ireland’s sub-scrummie Reddan at 9 or fleet-footed, form-returning-to and sure(r)-under-high-ball Fitzgerald at 11 is it?

      The answer of course is that it’s not lunacy, but I was just throwing that out there to wind people up nonetheless.

  10. Anonymous

     /  February 20, 2013

    What are you on montigol?

  11. Seko

     /  February 20, 2013

    WoC have on many occassions voiced their distain for the reductive nature of equating everything through provincial bias yet still seem happy to run with the view that Kidney loves all things “Cork”. Its a thin veil lads..

    • Take life less seriously Seko

      • Seko

         /  February 20, 2013

        I waste a lot of my time reading and trolling rugby blogs, clearly i dont take life that seriously. I have to say I generally enjoy your articles and they’re invariably well written and considered. I just take issue with the ficticious ‘munster mafia’ within the media and IRFU with which you mask your opinions. Obviously Conor George is an idiot, obviously George Hook makes his living by being a sensationalist, but it’s also obvious the Deccie doesn’t select based on which provice/city you come from. He may be conservative but he’s not biased. ROG’s continuied selection is down to inate conservatism. The rest of the munster selections (POM, Murray, Earls, DOC,etc) are there very much on merit and a lack of credible/fit alternatives. Many of these issues I know you agree with however your constant reference to munster sway in the media and team management is annoying for your southern readers. Mike Ross is form Cork and you make much reference to the amount of work he had to do to prove his worth. Call it pedantics/trolling, it’s an attempt at constructive criticism.

      • Buccaneer

         /  February 20, 2013

        The Cork remark was hilarious in fairness! And on a serious note, DK has looked south on the marginal calls more often than not

      • Lamo

         /  February 21, 2013

        Love the Cork comments, taken with a pinch of salt obviously. But I think Ross did have a bit of a falling out with Kidney when at Munster though, something to do with his father (who was possibly also his agent?) rubbing DK the wrong way and it contributed to his departure, unless I’m mistaken. Plus the Ross’ are a Protestant family, so there’s that…

  12. I’m just hoping that if things go wrong, that Jackson and Marshall receive the same steadfast support from all Irish fans as has been afforded to Peter O’Mahony and Conor Murray.

    • Plus one

      Marshall is set to stay – a bad outing for Jackson might set him back though…and we would never hear the end of it from the plundits. Even if I would prefer Madigan to start, I hope for Jackson and for Irish rugby that he goes well.

  13. jlo

     /  February 20, 2013

    I just hope Murray’s at his best or it’ll not matter who is outside him

    • Murray is about the least of our worries. Having a very good season, and even played halfway to decent against England.

  14. Connachtexile

     /  February 20, 2013

    Anyone else see the Indo article by Conor George? The man’s hysteria is hilarious. Really happy to see Court starting its well warranted.

    • We were trying to read it, but even on the internet it was so tear-stained the ink kept running. At this stage it’s best not to let him wind you up and just enjoy it for the funnies.

  15. I agree for the most part but not on the idea that Madigan and Jackson should’ve got game time in November. We were fighting for our lives to stay in the 2nd tier. Who could have known back then that Wales would have imploded so spectacularly? If he’d taken a risk and it not paid off we might have found ourselves in Pool A for RWC ’15 instead of Wales.

    • Don’t follow the logic. ROG’s cameos in November were woeful (and he didn’t need to be brought on). The alternatives couldn’t have been worse.

    • Is this not the very mentality that has got us in this situation? ROG had virtually no part to play in November, he was never going to be challenging for a starting place and when he came on he was more or less hopeless. Jackson played very well against Fiji, and there was a big opportunity to put him in the 22 shirt against Argentina the following week, but it was passed up.

      • tiptackler

         /  February 20, 2013

        That Fiji team were not the Fiji of old. They had virtually no training time together and were missing key players. Fair dues to Jackson and co. against them, but it’s not the same as saying he was ready for Argentina esp with what was at stake. Changes and experiments should have been made sooner I agree, but not then.

        • Pray tell, then, when should they have been made? Fiji were pants by the way, agreed, but still. If ROG was still playing great rugby at the time we’d take your point, but he wasn’t, so why were we clinging on to him like some sort of comfort blanket.

      • tiptackler

         /  February 20, 2013

        Immediately after RWC’11 esp, given that ROG said shite like this:
        http://www.thescore.ie/tearful-ogara-announces-his-intentions-to-retire-following-world-cup-229808-Sep2011/

        Anytime we played Italy or Scotland since then too. We also could’ve done what Scotland did last year and play more than one SH team during the summer. (I know that’s not entirely the IRFU’s fault; England played 3 against SA, and Wales 3 against Oz)

        Almost everytime we brought ROG on while Sexton was still playing was a mistake -with Sexton still on to steady things we could’ve played around with the team and tested out new kicking talent.

        I’m not clinging to the guy but in a crunch situation like last Nov I don’t think Kidney was entirely wrong to keep the faith.

  16. red razors

     /  February 20, 2013

    Colour me surprised. I really though deccie would batten down the hatches and remain his usual stubborn self. I have no expectations for the game itself, I’m just pleased that he finally demonstrated he actually has the capacity to make changes.

    • Indeed razors. We got so excited about the team selection we almost forgot there’s a match to play and didn’t really offer much opinion on how it’ll go. A tight, but possibly high-scoring, match will ensue, and we might just sneak out the right side of it. Much will depend, of course, on how the baby-faced Nordies get on in midfield.

  17. Enlightened Ulsterman

     /  February 20, 2013

    I hope this will silence my fellow Ulstermen who think we always get a raw deal from Munster coaches. The Heineken Cup Final was a step too far or too soon for Jackson less than a year ago and I don’t see him being international class yet. If Ian Humphreys had not opted for Danny Cipriani tackling in several games last year, Jackson would still be learning his trade on the bench for Ulster.

    Marshall clearly has rich talent but Is unproven. Darren Cave has been doing it for Ulster for some time and is a proper centre; there may a question mark about his pace at the highest level but he can tackle, pass and do special things in “the red zone”.

    So sympathy to the Dubs, Madigan should have been picked and I wouldn’t have been too upset if the workmanlike McFadden had got the nod over Marshall.

    • zdm

       /  February 20, 2013

      I still can’t get passed the fact that Madigan has been playing full back all season.
      A couple of months ago there was a post on WoC discussing whether or not Madigan should change positions to enhance his chances of a Leinster starting slot so I don’t buy it at all to suggest that he is a better option than Jackson who has proven not only his pedigree but his ability to learn harsh lessons and improve in the glare of the rugby media.

    • While this Ulster fan agrees with you that it shouldn’t be Jackson this weekend – Madigan starting, Keatley on the bench, for my money – there is no way that Ian Humphreys would be ahead of Jackson. Even suggesting so rather misses the point that PJ became first choice while IH was still at the club, and the latter was allowed to leave for piss-poor-and-plummeting London Irish without any sort of fight from the Ulster Branch. Why would he want to go to a club on the downslope, leaving one on the the up, if he was going to be the number one stand-off?

  18. Here’s hoping we’re not all repeating the words “same as it ever was” over and over come full time on Sunday…

  19. Len

     /  February 20, 2013

    McFadden would give you another on field place kicker but have no complaint about Marshall. Toner really needs to grab this chance he may not get another.

  20. Not much to add in comments, except to say that I love the title of this post.

  21. Lamo

     /  February 20, 2013

    As my Lunster pal (Blackrock lad, Dad from Cork) hilariously put it when this news was leaked last night: “This is the end of Irish Rugby”. Hoards of ROGophiles now join the ‘Kidney out’ bandwagon. ALL ABOARD!

  22. Has he picked the right fella? Answer will be apparent after the game. I’m still concerned about our bench, Toner, Reddan and RoG are not exactly who I’d like to have to turn to if the game is going sour and we need to change things up. I’d love to have seen the team able to spring Cronin, Killer, Hendo, O’Donnell, Marmion, Madigan and Fitz in and around the hour mark to really get stuck into the Scots.

    • You know something, that’s a REAL impact bench. Gamechangers. Different styles, different ideas. Small Paul is probably a better impact scrummie than anyone else, and if Bent can step up and recover from a long season he may be the next key to our “impact bench”

  23. Buccaneer

     /  February 20, 2013

    Paddy Jackson will be only the 4th man to wear number 10 for Ireland in the 6 Nations! That is remarkable, even taking our limited player pool into account. Very much open to correction on this though

  24. Given this is a nerd’s rugby blog, I figured I could get away with doing up a chart showing the kicking success rate for the Pro12’s kickers. As I haven’t seen that much of Keatley this year, it gave me a sense for why Munster fans are warming to him so rapidly. But it also filled me with a pinch of fear about having two of the Rabo’s ropiest kickers in our 23 for the weekend. (While Scotland have two of the most consistent.) If Ireland struggle to score tries…

    Now, how to embed these things. Here goes my attempt:

    If that doesn’t work, sure just click here:

    • Weir hasn’t taken that many kicks in truth this season as he’s been behind R. Jackson all season, who’s had a fair few shockers with the boot.. Reminds me of Sexton when he broke through, classy in attack but couldn’t seem to get over his kicking yips…

      Laidlaw is like Paterson, top quality from inside the 35m range, but struggles outside that.

      Jackson will be fine. Old head on young shoulders. Madigan should have been on the bench though!

    • Thanks for the nerdery Ronan. Keatley’s done rather well hasn’t he? I was surprised the numbers are all so high in general. The majority over 80%.

    • Lamo

       /  February 21, 2013

      81% and 83% aren’t too ropey though, but I see what you’re saying! Madigan has 4th most attempts, pretty high for someone whom many consider a bench-warmer and hence not worthy of an Ireland call-up.

      • @Lamo
        Also/conversely, given people talk about Sexton not playing much in the Rabo any more (opinion seems to be that he plays HCup, Ireland or nada), I thought his number of attempts was also high!

        @WOC
        Apologies for calling this the nerd’s rugby blog. I realise of course that this is the rugby nerd’s blog… which is very different.

    • Rwcm1

       /  February 21, 2013

      @Ronan @WOC
      I appreciate having the kicking info (and the time you took to compile it), but I’d put more emphasis on the context of the kicks than the stats.

      As the stats seem to be from after the Scarlets game, the 2 kicks missed by ROG on Sunday from not great distance seem to have (understandably) FAR outweighed the 27 other kicks he attempted in the Rabo.
      He could have kicked 98% this season but his weak performances against Eng & Scarlets (& 10 mins v Arg) would have still have been damning – he was never picked for his all-round game and once his kicking performance (to touch & in-field) fell so consistently short (pun intended), the fat lady was tucked up in bed long after several curtain-calls.

      My arithmetic may not be precise, but I think it works out as Keatley having missed about 2 kicks (out of 37), Jackson 6 (out of 32) and ROG 5 (out of 29).
      Factor in distance, conditions, significance of the kick and it could easily affect the differential of 4 kicks between Keatley & Jackson. (Though if Pinear took any longer kicks in PJ games, it could be already skewed in favour of PJ.)

      I am sad that Kidney & ROG have both been party to the serious undermining of ROG’s reputation by not ending his time as Irish 10 after RWC11, but perhaps it was inevitable with Ronan’s convicition in his ability & Declan’s conservatism.
      Now I want to forget my disappointment at ROG’s poor displays & recall with fondness his great days.
      Regardless of the result against Scotland, if Sexton is not fit for France Kidney should pick Madigan as cover for Jackson. The time for change has arrived – BOD will go before too long so don’t concertina the inevitable changes together.

      Keith Wood was right to go after RWC2003 – let’s hope that BOD has taken note of Ronan’s decline and has the good sense to quit while we are still hopeful (but expectant, not forelorn) that he can put in performances like Cardiff.
      Autumn v NZ might be the right occasion if BOD is not crocked again another Lions trip.

      (@WOC & all contributors – great blog & replies: one of the very best rugby sites!)

      • @Rwcm1
        I agree – I didn’t mean to intend the graph to be the be-all-and-end-all, rather it might be something to add to the mix. The inclusion of penalty success rate (in brackets) was meant in part to address the context of the kick, but of course that only gets you some of the way there (as you note with the Pienaar/Jackson length issue).

  25. Chogan (@Cillian_Hogan)

     /  February 20, 2013

    I’m pleased enough by the selections. However, I have to say that this feels like a media selection for the Stand Off position. If Deccie was serious about selecting PJ before the weekend’s round of Rabo fixtures or even considering it. Why was he not the designated kicker for Ulster at the weekend?

    I’m still not happy seeing ROG involved but I suppose that would be asking too much. The bench is concerning though. We’re still in the unenviable “Uh Oh” scenario should we get more than one injury in the backline.

    As for the meeja. Thank you WOC for being my primary source of rational written thought on serious rugby matters. Those printed eejits would be well served covering water polo instead for all the expert analysis (or not) and opinion they proclaim to have.

  26. Great blog, I think you nailed it. If ROG is not good enough to start, why on the bench. If we have a second injury in the backs and Luke is already on the field is ROG gonna come on and play wing or full back??? Surely Madigan would be a far better option on the bench (or starting in my opinion)

  27. Exile

     /  February 20, 2013

    What troubles me the most about the inclusion of ROG on the bench is the lack of cover in the backs. At least with Madigan there he can cover 10 and 15. If we lost a winger and RK things would become very difficult.

    • Lamo

       /  February 21, 2013

      In fairness we’d be in the same position if it were PJ on the bench behind Sexton, which will more than likely be the case in future squads. I think ROG is in serious decline and definitely not worthy of a start, and am a huge fan of Madigan, but it does make sense to have an experienced kicker on the bench.
      I don’t think we would have lost the match with ROG at 10, but it would have sent out the wrong message entirely. If PJ has a meltdown à la Twickenham 2012 (which I don’t think will happen) then I’d still fancy us to beat the Scots with him coming off the bench.
      Madigan doesn’t start for Leinster, hasn’t played many HEC games… Though I’d love to see him in there, it’s understandable that ROG gets no. 22. It’s not unreasonable to pick according to the provincial pecking order.

      • It’s very hard to say who in the coming years will play backup to Sexton with his departure giving Madigan a great opportunity to shine. I don’t think ROG has the ability to change a game anymore (I’d love to be proven wrong) but all I’ve heard in terms of his selection so far is his ability to see out a game in the last few minutes, which only comes into play if we’re actually winning. Also my reason for wanting to bring new players in is because I like competition in the squad. I think if JS saw Jackson play well this weekend and Madigan coming in and holding his own he’d be worried. Fear is a great motivator.

  28. Rich

     /  February 21, 2013

    Congrats to Jackson on selection.

    Cannot understand the nonsense about Madigan??? He should be selected at stand off for Ireland because he played ok at full back for Leinster? I can t believe what I am reading? One decent game at 10 against a pub team and that puts him ahead of Jackson who had steered a team through a superb unbeaten run? Granted he is off kicking goals which Isn t ideal but at least he is actually playing at a high level for his club….

    And also – saying Kidney not being bias to Munster players is like saying Jonathan Davies Isn t bias to Wales when commentating. Is so blatant it’s actually become acceptable. Munster are an awful team at present, held up by a few decent imports, yet most of their team find themselves in the Ireland set up. With the exception of D Ryan, none of them make any impact on the international setup whatsoever, the only reason they are involved is that they did it for kidney in the past, and he is thinking that after he gets the boot from Ireland he ll need a Job in Munster somewhere so better keep them sweet.

    Harsh I know, but very very true

  29. Jlo

     /  February 21, 2013

    Rich Are you sure Jonathan Davies is welsh ?
    Lamo says Ireland wouldn’t loose with RoG at no. 10. In the Rabo he has started 7 times won 3 lost 4, Keatley started 8 won 6 lost 2. I hope they stick with RoG.

  30. Enlightened Ulsterman

     /  February 21, 2013

    Rich

    I feel you are being overly harsh. Munster are a ropey team but the imports aren’t helping them much but as well as Ryan, Murray, Zebo and Earls (not as a centre) are international class. O’Mahoney has also done better than I expected and I think O’Callaghan can still do a job.

    The real import boosted team is Ulster as the backbone of the team has been Afoa, Muller, Wannenberg/Williams, Pienaar and this season Payne. Best and Ferris (on the rare occasions he is fit) are probably the only international class Ulster players although Trimble has been ok for Ireland,Gilroy has deserved his chance and Henry is unlucky. It is a comment on the dearth of talent or misguided selection that promising kids with as little experience as Marshall, Jackson and Henderson are now being asked to step up a level. I hope they perform but I am anxious.

    • Rich

       /  February 21, 2013

      This season ulster have played 15 and lost 2, Munster have played 15 and lost 6(in rabo)

      Wanneberg actually left ulster last season but don t let that get in the way of him and all his other saffer mates beating teams single handily this term….zebo adds the odd spark but so did niall woods, Murray def adds nothing than falling asleep for 20 mins in the 2nd half of every game, pom only involved as ferris injured. Yeah – if POC fit I m sure he would add value but even his style of play (the Munster way) is being left behind. O Callaghan? Did you write this post 2 years ago and forget to hit send? The guy is so far off it – he is almost a ruck behind everyone else. D Ryan yes – class player, pick of the bunch.

      We have demanded change for so long and now it’s happened the nerves have kicked in. I do agree that Jackson s goalkicking under p has been dodgy – but let’s see what the boy has got. If he’s undercooked we can put him back for a year – no loss – Marshall has dominated when he has been fit so I say cut them loose and have a good go at the scots. With guys like obrien on fire, heaslip with a point to prove, long with the young backline, I think there is cause for optimism……

  31. Apologies for my impudence, this is not my blog, but can I take a straw poll of Munster fans: which of the following selections should be Munster match day outhalves (starting/bench)?

    Rog/Keatley
    Keatley/Rog
    Rog/Hanrahan
    Keatley/Hanrahan

    (If anyone thinks JJ should start, feel free to chip in).

    Personally, I think it should be Keatley/Hanrahan (who has looked magic every time I’ve seen him play at senior pro level, although I think that is only twice).

    An awful lot of Rog criticisers (of which I am one) have been attacked for making things personal. Doubtless that is true in some cases, but not I think in the majority, and certainly not with me. O’Gara is an Ireland and Munster rugby great, and will remain so, but this isn’t about personalities or provincial bias – it’s about the passage of time. He isn’t up to the job any more. Keatley is, has been playing better than Rog all year for Munster, and it is his time, IMO.

    All the talk of “experience” and “mentality” isn’t worth shit if the guy’s body’s no longer up to the task. There is no shame in this, Rog is nearly 36 FFS! For a back that’s an incredible age to still be even considering togging out with the big boys.

    And, finally, all those who would support what might be simplified into the “experience” argument (as opposed to those backing the “faded force” point): your memories can’t be that short to have forgotten how O’Gara came into the Ireland team, surely? Or how the national team was rejuvenated by dramatically shedding some senior players for younger men while the side was at a low ebb? If you could go back in time would you be playing the experience card? Or calling for Humphreys to start every game? He took his team to a Heineken Cup, you know, long before Rog ever did the same, or was the “experienced” one himself.

  32. Diarmuid

     /  February 21, 2013

    This comment has been moderated

  33. Go Ruck Yourself

     /  February 21, 2013

    Madigan – fast becoming the most overrated player in Irish rugby. “Oh but he had a blinder against Treviso 2nd XV”. My auld wan could have kept that game ticking over at 10. Till he does it in a big game people need to shut the eff up. Shut. The. Eff. Up. I notice Schmidty didn’t exactly leap out of his seat to give Madigan his vote of confidence when the news broke J-10 was facking off to France

    Also, McFadden – this generation’s John Kelly…?

    • Manga's League

       /  February 21, 2013

      Uuuugh Hullo? Is ‘e havin’a laugh?
      All I will say is that Madigan is an 8 or a 9 at least and shouldnt have to put up with this sh*t!
      Who the fock’s John Kelly? McFadden is a bear! Kilcoyne is a whale……..
      Back to the bog you plumberrrrr!

      • Seiko

         /  February 21, 2013

        John Kelly was a Munster winger (mostly) but played in the centre for Munster’s win over Leinster in the semi in 2006 and for Munster Heineken Cup Final the same year. He retired in ’08.

        Larry M – as a Munster fan I’m quite happy to see JJ being allowed to develop as a centre alongside either ROG or Keatley. I honestly think that both Keatley & JJ can learn a lot from ROG, not least being around a guy who has done it all. One thing I note about Keatley is that he tends to become a bit of a headless chicken in pressurised games (i.e., his kicking stats dropped to something like 43% in the Heineken Cup games he played in which is really surprising becaue he is so good at Rabo level) and his game management goes out the window. JJ has the attitude to deal with pressure (U20s kicking a difficult penalty for the away win against France last 6Ns). This lad thrives on pressure – a bit ROG in that respect.

    • Leinsterlion

       /  February 21, 2013

      The era of kicking the leather of the ball is over brah, maddog has it all, hes this generations Willy Beaman. Hopefully this will be the last we see of the stale, backward looking, Munster derived, coaching and play that has bedeviled the national side for eons.

    • While it’s imortant some perspective is kept on Madigan, the argument that he hasn’t done it in a big game can also be overdone. Up until now he’s stuck behind Johnny Sexton, so his chances of getting picked for a big games have been diminished. I think, too often, people get sucked into a mentality of ‘what the player can’t do’, or hasn’t done, rather than looking at what he CAN bring to the table. We’ve said the same in the past regarding Keith Earls.

      We can only go on what we HAVE seen of Ian Madigan, not what we have not. So, while lots of Madigan’s eye-catching performances have been in the Pro12, it should be obvious from watching them that he has a lot of ability.

      • Go Ruck Yourself

         /  February 22, 2013

        That wasn’t an anti-Leinster diatribe – I am a Leinster supporter but first and foremost Ireland supporter. I also know real Gucci when I see it and Madigan is a tip rugby player. When I say that I don’t mean he can’t defend because he definitely can. I mean he has all the skills but they don’t count for shit when it pissing rain and you’re getting achingly slow ball against an organised D. He has some serious potential but I reckon he’s headed for James Hook/Carlos Spencer/Ian Humphreys tag of skillful but lacking game management skills/poise. And if anyone thinks he would have made any difference to England game, your understanding of the game is sorely lacking.

      • Leinsterlion

         /  February 22, 2013

        @GoRuckyourself you say hes headed for a “Carlos Spencer tag”, who you then squash between two average at best players in iHumph and Hook(who are not fit to lace up his boots), indicating you dont actually have a clear idea of his style of play. Carlos was one of the greatest front foot 10’s ever seen, it just so happened his time as a NZ international was squashed between a chap called Dan Carter and coaches who preferred the dull “game management” of Mehertens. The 2005 Lions Maori game is on YT have a look at that, along with the countless other games where teams playing front foot rugby with Carlos at 10 absolutely shred the opposition. The 2003 NZ/Wales WC is on there have a look, that is how rugby is meant to be played.
        Why would you use the tired old excuses “cant play in the wet, what can he do off slow ball, blah blah blah..” without ever seeing him do it. Madigan is not the finished article by any means but if he can reach the levels Spencer has played at he’ll have reached a level no modern Irish ten has come close to.
        I’d rather lose an open an exciting game then win or in a boring dull kickfest. Your snide characteristion of of him as a tip player, shows your mindset. Madigan should be encouraged to go out and express himself as if its a game of tip, throwing offloads, flat passes on the gainline etc. That attitude of “win at all costs” is ok as a plan Z, in a final, but who actually wants to see that in any game?
        Rugby should be fun, not this nihilistic kidneyball with a corpse at 10 and lumbering oafs falling to the ground with offloading an anathema. As for your assertion that Madigan would have made no impact on the england result? I think keeping the defence honest and wary would have blunted their blitz and given our outside backs more time and space. As it was the lollipop lady at 10 was easy and immobile to shut down. Madigan would have made a game of it, if nothing else.

      • Go Ruck Yourself

         /  February 22, 2013

        Yeah, he’s also the same player who imploded against Aus in ‘03 RWC QF when they got knocked out and flopped miserably at Northampton. CS was a very skilful player – given – but he wasn’t a great 10. If there were judges on the sidelines giving marks out of 10 for audacious shit players do then he’d have done great but if you’re reliant on good weather and your pack dominating then you’re not a great 10.

        Right, well, at least I can see that your point is in favour of attractive rugby over winning rugby. Unfortunately, when Kidney’s performance is getting reviewed at the IRFU, I doubt they pull up Rugby Dump and check out how much cool shit Ireland did during his tenure as a metric so the chap is entitled to pick players who he thinks will win matches.

        Ireland lost to England because they couldn’t generate any quick ball to put England under pressure and any pressure we did mount we wasted by making stupid knock-ons. England contested well at ruck time, were disciplined in defence and kicked better than us. Madigan would have made no difference and neither would any out-half with the shitty ball they were given. One of the only times we had good quality, quick ball with numbers outside (after Earls break), J-10 hammered a shocking, aimless kick straight down the pitch.

      • Leinsterlion

         /  February 22, 2013

        Your characterisation of Carlos flopping at Northampton is way wide of the mark, ist they equivilant of putting an F1 in a rally and wondering why it doesnt win. Carlos was a big money marketing move, he was signed and put into a mediocre team and expected to perform miracles. He was surrounded by tier 2 talent and it was inevitable it would implode ad they would go down. Signing a thoroughbred attacking 10 and surrounding him with carthorses is never a good strategy.
        As for the loss to Aus, hardly Carlos’s fault they simply couldnt get it going and gave away stupid penalties throughout the match. Anyone can have an off day. Carlos won two S12’s and played some of the best rugby ever seen in a NZ shirt. The guy was a genius. Ive seen that sort of audacity from Madigan and Sexton at Leinster and only once or twice from Johnny at international level. The day Sexton throws a pass through his legs in a WC game against the Boks is the day I can say he’s one of the best in the world. He hasnt shown an iota of the inspiration and innovation that Carlos brought to the table.
        Anyway, my central contention is we need attacking rugby, but to do that you need a fast backline, especially at 10. A 10 who can out run flankers centers and fullbacks is essential, Ireland have for too long picked lumbering bosh merchants Trimble, Horgan on the wing. We need a backline picked on handling and pace not kicking and jumping ability. Picking Madigan at 10 would be start. If Ireland started playing the rugby NZ played in 2003 Kidney could have the job for life.

  34. Mary Hinge

     /  February 21, 2013

    Oh dear, aren’t our Munster friends getting so uptight…….can dish it, but can’t take it. Now why isn’t that a surprise?

  35. Jlo

     /  February 21, 2013

    Looks like our southern friends are having a domestic. Souper

  36. Keith

     /  February 21, 2013

    To bring this conversation back from the brink, can I question the credit you give Kidney for changes. All 5 changes this week are injury related. ROG played himself off the starting team in his last two matches leaving Kidney with no choice but Jackson since neither Keatley or Madigan had been blooded in the international set up. Marshall is the only provincial 12 standing, given McFadden hasn’t played there this season and the second half in Cardiff showed that BOD/Earls is not a runner.

    Unfortunately, Kidney’s previous lack of planning in blooding players since the World Cup has left us fielding a young inexperienced midfield. We really need to start a proper squad system and selecting some new players for less important or easier matches (and possibly changing players depending on the opposition – ala Schmidt in Leinster).

    Maybe we also need to look deeper than the coaching set up though. Do the IRFU have a hand in this either with the short term result targets, or wanting value for the centrally contracted players.

    • Away with your common sense: it clearly has no place on this thread.

      • Rich

         /  February 22, 2013

        Agreed!
        White flag waved….
        Mads not ready for intl – too loose it’s not 7s World Cup
        Keatley has to start next season at 10 for Munster – JJ will push him hard
        We have no long term plan – win the next game that’s it. Just like fast Eddie’s last season – we have blood too few and plodded along – and will continue to do so

      • Go Ruck Yourself

         /  February 22, 2013

        Fair point re: blooding new but when exactly can you do this? We typically schedule one ‘banter’ international against Fiji or some buzzers like that but apart from that when do we do it? Against Scotland/Italy in the Six Nations? If we lost against them with a deliberately weakened team, everyone would go APESHIT. It doesn’t help when every game is framed as “Ireland’s biggest game ever ever”. Take the Argie match in November, the “must-win” game for Ireland’s ranking points and widely expected to be a tighter than it was. If there’s a last minute kick to win it, do you want ROG to step up or some Nordie kipper who looks about 12? I reckon Kidney’s approach is sensible enough, bring promising players into camp so that they are familiar with systems. I feel bad for Kidney sometimes, he is fucked either way with every decision he makes

      • zdm

         /  February 22, 2013

        5 years ago you’d take ROG but the problem is that he can’t manage a game well enough any more to keep Ireland in touch in the final minute.

        Unless Jackson is going to take place kicks with his face or be asked to show I.D. before every restart then it hardly matters what he looks like.

  37. Manga's League

     /  February 22, 2013

    Not blooded anyone? I know there are a number of injuries at the moment but Sundays team starts only 4 of the Grand Slam starting team of Kidneys first season (the same amount as Wales on the same day, who have similar injury problems, and often receive praise for their progressive approach).
    In the last few years Kidney has handed debuts to plenty of young players but unlike many international coaches he waits until they are ready and proven so that he knows he can stick wth them and not just throw them in the ‘used’ pile. This does often co-incide with injuries, but generally the best players are the best players until they get injured. ROG is an obvious exception to this rule but I believe he had built up enough credibility to justify the faith shown in him up until recently.
    A bunch of young munster players came through last year, as they were being entrusted with the Munster Heineken Cup team. The young Ulster players are now doing the same and they are getting a similar opportunity. In 2 years time I think we will see another crop of Leinster young lads and more and more Connachts younger players are gaining responsibilty, respect and opportunity in the camps.
    You could literally field an entirely competent 22 of players who Kidney has given debuts over the last few years.

    Jacksons looks have everyhing to do with it….if you cant even get into Krystal, let alone bail into a B list Irish model then you have no business in the squad!

    So apt that Earls is now on Denis Hickeys wing…I’m sure he could cut him a deal on Wavin pipe..

  38. Seiko

     /  February 23, 2013

    Leinster Lion – Joe Schmidt is the man responsible for dropping Carlos Spencer for the Blues – hence he is (to put it mildly) not popular in Auckland. Apparently he didn’t get get on with him. Schmidt spoke of the trauma of it all last week when speaking about ROG being dropped. I’d say Schmidt has burnt a fair few bridges with the Blues fans for that one. Madigan watch out.

    • Leinsterlion

       /  February 23, 2013

      I know, and I dont think its a coincidence that the Blues have been thrash ever since. Getting rid of Spencer for an ITM cup player was a disastrous decision.
      Schmidts a good coach but if he starts putting the handbrake on Mads eye for a gap(that may or may not exist) things could get ugly at the RDS next year.

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