Captain Fantastic

There is plenty of speculation about who the Milky Bar Kid will hand his armband to. For some, it seems particularly relevant as it gives Schmidt the chance to prove he isn’t inherently biased towards the Blue Meanies and pick someone who isn’t from the Pale. This is nonsense of course, but doesn’t make it any less important. Deccie’s well-meaning attempt to position Ireland for RWC15 by picking Jamie Heaslip  as last season’s captain [Aside: Deccie always picked Leinstermen as Ireland’s permanent captain – BIAS!] didn’t quite work out, but that doesn’t mean it’s wrong to do it. We might be late to the party in planning for the tournament, but that should be our horizon here. So who are the contenders?

Some Bloke Called Brian.  He has done the state some service, they might say. But he’ll be gone in nine months, and is only coming back from injury.  His leadership is so great it’s almost hard for the captain to be in charge, as Heaslip found last season, but this being his last year, there is surely no point in handing the armband.

Paul O’Connell. Favourite, due to his totemic pack leadership credentials, but an injury doubt for the first game, which doesn’t help his chances. Many of his best recent performances – think first Lions test – haven’t come as captain and he seems to function best as a leader, but not the leader. You’ll get his on-pitch leadership anyway, so it probably matters less to him than to some outside the camp.  Would be a fine choice in any case.

Jamie Heaslip. Divided opinion when appointed last year – some considered it a brave choice by a previously unimaginative coach, some a foolhardy choice  of an “absolute knob” (C. George). Undoubtedly, it didn’t work out, amid a team imploding on-field and off. Healsip didn’t help himself by wearing headphones absent-minded and naive post-game comments. But surely remains a respected leader within the team, and his relationship with Schmidt is presumably stronger than that he had with Kidney, which always looked like an uneasy alliance.  Schmidt used him as captain any time Cullen wasn’t around, and if O’Connell is injured, Heaslip probably becomes the favourite. He is also incumbent, so choosing Heaslip won’t be as controversial for Schmidt as it was for Deccie.

Rory Best. The stalking horse. Besty has been mentioned by precisely nobody, but he is who we would appoint. He is already part of the squad’s leadership corps, has plenty of experience, and has recovered from last season’s half-annus horribilis. Best will be around past RWC15, and has played a key role in husbanding some of the exciting youngsters at Ulster who are also now exciting youngsters in green (Henderson, Jackson, Marshall, Gilroy). A fine man, whose character is reflected by his reaction to being omitted from the initial Lions squad – he used the opportunity to recall the memory of the tragic Nevin Spence, and opined there was more to life.

Peter O’Mahony. Munster captain, and an important member of the squad. Has been excellent in red this season, and we will hopefully see him concentrating on 8 from here on, although that muddles things at national level where he’s most likely to play at 6. But he’s only bedding into the role with Munster, and handing him the national captaincy on top of that may seem like too much burden all at once. Still, he is presumably Frankie’s choice, and that has to count for something right?

Sean O’Brien.  Not an obvious choice as he looks more wrecking ball than strategist, but his game has matured recently, highlighted by his outstanding breakdown work in recent months.  Unduobtedly a key player for the incoming coach, and arguably now the best player in the country, but is he ready to lead it?  Probably not, but a possible wild-card nonetheless.

Paddy Wallace. Go on Joe, for a laugh. The righteous indignation would have us rolling in the aisles.

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53 Comments

  1. Missing Sexton from this list lads in my opinion. He’s the general already – and indicated he’d like it in his book. He’s one of our nailed on absolute starters and genuine world class. He’s already a decision maker, articulate, and strong willed.

    For me he’s the ideal candidate, and one who I think if he got it, even die-hard Munster/Connacht/Ulster fans could hardly argue against?

    I think he could handle the additional pressure, but maybe politically it would be a step too far?

    • I was about to suggest Sexton. The country’s best player at this point, in my opinion, and he has been absolutely ridiculous for the last several seasons both internationally and domestically. As you say, he is guaranteed to start, which is essential, and he seems to want as much responsibility as he can get (and has seemed that way since he came on the scene). He’s also nowhere near retirement, but established enough that his youth wouldn’t be a problem. I’m really surprised that his name never seems to come up in these discussions.

    • curates_egg

       /  November 4, 2013

      It makes sense in a lot of ways but do you really need him to be the official captain? He is a leader anyway: does he really need the BS of speaking with ref just before he takes each kick? Of doing all the media stuff? There are good reasons you don’t see that many outhalf captains.

      • I agree he could do without the off the pitch stuff, but if you were to consider the captain as the voice of the coach on the field, there is surely no-one better placed than Sexton. He lives and breathes Schmidt’s approach to rugby, as well as having the gravitas needed to carry out the role.

        • curates_egg

           /  November 4, 2013

          And he is now best buddies with ROG, so surely Conor George likes him too? George’s approval being key to any captaincy choice.

    • Steve

       /  November 4, 2013

      I’ve seen Sexton’s name linked with the job a couple of times in the past and the arguments against it have always been (a) as out-half he already has enough responsibility and (b) he’s too cranky. I’d be inclined to go along with them.

    • toro toro

       /  November 4, 2013

      In addition to what’s been said above, playing in France will be an issue. Not because the IRFU want to keep players at home, but because he just won’t have as much time available (as witness this weekend) for camps, press avails, strategising meetings, etc. If your employers are the IRFU, they can juggle your schedule and responsibilities around. If your employers are Racing Club de Paris, they’re paying you three-quarters of a million for your pretty-much undivided attention, international windows aside.

  2. Oh, the comments on this one are going to be interesting. 🙂 Best is certainly more than capable of leading Ireland, having done so when necessary in the past, but O’Connell is the deserved favourite based on the respect he commands. No mention of Sexton though? Has his departure to France cost him the day-to-day interaction with members of the Ireland squad that an Irish captain ought to have?

    • Yeah, I don’t think Sexton is in the running, purely based on his decision to move to France. It’s one thing picking him (we have to) but it would be remarkable if he was allowed to be captain.

      • Bushmills

         /  November 4, 2013

        I agree. Schmidt is already openly frustrated at his limited time in camp and physical condition (“flat”). Its going to be tough to have a captain who is flying back to Paris for a day or two when the rest are still in camp.

        Also, whilst I don’t believe the IRFU have any direct role in influencing the decion of who top pick as the captian, the spectre of player exodus is heavy in the air. Annointing the first Irish star to move would not sit well with the blazers.

      • Scrumdog

         /  November 5, 2013

        I agree. The captain must remain in the country. POC and BOD have become very susceptible injury and are not reliable as durable starters for the season, as Heasilp would be. Maybe a pack leader would be ‘best’ for the forwards(pun intended) and the Captain selected from the backs..now who can step forward as a durable back line player that fits the bill? So one can see that Joe has a bit of a long term dilemma heading toward the RWC and so I believe he will stick with Heaslip and help him grow in the captaincy role.

  3. Chogan (@Cillian_Hogan)

     /  November 4, 2013

    Give it to BOD. A captain in the backs as far out as 13 allows a pack leader to have a voice with which to influence.

  4. Jimbob

     /  November 4, 2013

    Not a fan of Heaslip or POM as captain. They seem to perform better when they stick their head down and focus on their own work. They also have a tendency to come across as very whingy when speaking with the ref as opposed to appealing in a clear and concise manner.
    Best is a good shout but is he guaranteed a spot? Cronin (darts aside) is playing great rugby. Either way it’s unlikely Best will play more than 60 mins per game.
    Sexton’s a possibility but maybe he’s just too grumpy for the role, a captain should be able to motivate…not just bollock his players!!
    Other possibilities to consider would be Kearney or even Murray. I would prefer for it to be someone more involved in the game so that rules out a fullback and it’s probably too soon for Murray.
    I reckon if he’s fit enough it’ll be POC with two of Heaslip, POM or Best as vice-captains.

  5. Leinsterlion

     /  November 4, 2013

    Leave it with Heaslip, if POM gets the captaincy, we’ll be the first international side whose captain spends(or should spend) most of the game on the bench. Also the
    “indignation redux” emanating from certain quarters about “having a fanchy dan with shiny boots as captain etc” will be worth it.

    • Is this a reference to POM’s disciplinary record or a vulnerability to being dropped?

      If the former, I’d like to see figures for the number of times he has been sin-binned or sent off for Munster and Ireland, compared and contrasted to some other Irish back-row players. In particular, I’d appreciate a breakdown of the number of red cards he’s picked up at international level compared to his fellow back-row players.

      If the latter, I’d like to see your medical prognosis on Stephen Ferris’ injury status, which I can only presume is what you’re referring to. Or perhaps you’re reigniting your brilliant campaign to get Robbie Diack in the team…

      • Purely based on Fez being a must-pick player if fit. Obviously, that isn’t going to happen any time soon. Also, if (as we hope) O’Mahony continues to play as he has been at 8 for Munster, perhaps he will threaten Heaslip’s jersey directly.

        As for Robbie Diack – ugh

      • Leinsterlion

         /  November 4, 2013

        Ireland have reams of backrows superior to POM, POM is grading out as a crap version of Neil Best. He’s a hardman without the hard, I’d rather have an actual lunatic in Neil Best then a pretend one in POM, utterly average player with great lineout abilities, only in the team because he’s the prodigal son, for some reason.
        Cite a few performances where he has been utterly dominant. I can think of 40 mins against Quins and a few Pro12 games. Other then that he shouldnt be in the team. He’s at 8 for Munster and even Copeland(never mind Heaslip) is clearly superior in that regard, so you would suggest moving him to six at the expense of a player who has played 6 all year? A team picked purely on form and ability should not have him in it. And yes that includes Robbie Diack(based on blindside form).

        • Oh Leinsterlion, you’re quite the tonic. “A crap version of Neil Best” indeed… He is of course absolutely nothing like Neil Best as a player, what with Neil Best’s strengths having been huge tackles and counter-rucking, and Neil Best’s weaknesses being his uselessnes as a lineout option (hence Simon Easterby getting picked over him so much even when Best was in patently better form) and his useless hands. Those weaknesses are of course O’Mahony’s strengths, which should suggest that you haven’t the faintest notion what you’re on about when you compare the two, but whatever. A crap Simon Easterby might have been a more plausible if nonetheles ridiculous comparison.

          As for games in which he’s been dominant, just offhand, I’d note his performance against France in last season’s 6 Nations, when he was probably the best back-row on the park (chapeau to WoC for the excellent analysis of the back row in that game), his HEC debut against Northampton in 2011, his recent game against Gloucester, again man of the match, and most recently, his game against Glasgow, when he put ina phenomenal 19 tackles. But no, I’m sure that on all of these occasions he was seagulling on the wing, and Robbie Diack would have made all the difference…

          • Typos all over the shop there. Just to clarify, he was man of the match on his HEC debut against Northampton in 2011.

          • toro toro

             /  November 4, 2013

            One doesn’t have to foam at the mouth like LeinsterLion, though, to think that there are plenty of options for the backrow, which don’t include O’Mahony. To wit, and assuming for simplicity’s sake that Heaslip plays 8 in all of these:

            * There’s a strong case for O’Brien at 6, and Chris Henry at 7. I know some Ulster fans who think that’s the best hand available to us even when Fez is fit.
            * When Fez *is* fit, it’s hard to make a case for his exclusion.
            * Schmidt seems to like (at least in his “home” XVs) playing with a pure open-side. A fitter Jennings – who he knows and trusts deeply – or Tommy O’Donnell is an alternative in that role, if you’re not convinced by Henry. Dom Ryan will be too, if him and Schmidt patch up their differences. Even if that’s only used on a home-and-away basis, it means POM’s starting place is not guaranteed.
            * Schmidt is also a huge fan of Kevin McLaughlin. There’s not a massive gap between him and POM in quality terms, which given the coach’s trust puts a swing to Locky well within the range of during-the-season form fluctuations. Again, I’m not saying this is likely, I’m saying it’s likely enough to count against placing POM in a long-term role.
            * Then, there are other good young possibilities at 6 coming through. If you’re picking O’Mahony as captain, you’re picking him through to the World Cup; but by then it’s distinctly possible that Jordi Murphy or NWJMB, to name just too, will be making an irresistible case for selection.

          • @toro toro – perfectly reasonable comments, and I certainly wouldn’t make O’Mahony captain. (For the record, I think O’Connell is the natural choice, and it seems like he’ll be fit for Samoa, so I’d be shocked if he isn’t chosen.) I’d disagree on a few things in terms of the shake-up in the BR, though.

            I don’t think Dominic Ryan has shown anything to suggest he should be in the Ireland frame, and it’s looking increasingly unlikely to me that he will. Ruddock, whom I’ve had little time for in previous seasons, has started to look quite impresive at 6 this season, and is a better candidate than Ryan to my mind, and even he isn’t close to challenging just yet.

            I have a lot of time for McLaughlin, a hugely underrated player and instrumental in a very good pack performance against New Zealand in the second Test in Christchurch last year, but his ceiling is lower than O’Mahony’s. It is a call I could see being made if O’Mahony’s form falls off, but not one I would like to see in a relatively even situation based on “trust”, which is a euphemism for “I’ve coached this player at club level and I know what I’ll get”, which is in turn an admission that a coach doesn’t fully know his players (he’s Ireland coach, he should know all of them extremely well even if he doesn’t have hands on day-to-day contact with them).

            Henry is a top player for Ulster, and is worth a look at international level at some point, but my gut feeling is that he’s slightly limited. A huge nuisance at the breakdown, but I’d have questions over whether he’ll be able to bring that to the international level to the same effect as he does for Ulster, and I don’t think he offers huge amounts in other aspects of play.

            I fear Jennings’ time may have come and passed, which is unfortunate for the only excellent indigenous “traditional 7” we’ve produced in yonks.

            Ferris, yes, naturally. O’Donnell, maybe, he was probably playing better than O’Mahony toward the end of last season. Murphy, potentially, looks like he could make an excellent 8. Henderson will hopefully be in the second row. I think that covers all the players you mentioned, plus Ruddock!

            It’s extremely premature to say this, but feck it, I’m gonna put it out there anyway and say that the dark horse in this equation is Dan Leavy. He lookwd a phenomenal talent for the u20s while a year underage, and all it takes is one breakthrough season…

          • toro toro

             /  November 4, 2013

            Yeah, I remember seeing Leavy MOTMing in a losing side in the Leinster Schools Final as a 4th year. Even at that stage, two years younger than most of the guys on the pitch, his physicality was just freakish. Sadly, allsorts can go wrong at this stage of a career; but he’s a phenomenal prospect.

      • Leinsterlion

         /  November 4, 2013

        @thoughtless I wasnt comparing Best’s playing style and game to POM’s merely saying he actually is a hardman in comparison to POM, who patently is not. As for him being the best back row on the park v France, you are forgetting the man monster that is Picamoles. And wow playing well against glouscester B’s and another Pro12 game, stop the presses its Juan Smith volume II……

        How about you read my actual post brah, before you critique…….

        • I read your post alright, brah, you said that “POM is grading out as a crap version of Neil Best”. Apologies for not being able to parse your deluded ramblings in the obscure way you intended them, brah. Your obsession with his hardness or otherwise is genuinely weird, and seems to obscure your assessment of all of the other aspects of his play. I actually don’t care whether or not he’s “hard”. I’m pretty convinced Rob Kearney is a hard, tough character who played through a seriously painful injury in the 6 Nations; I’m also convinced he’s a bad defender, and that’s slightly more important than some intangible characteristic people use to criticise players when they can’t actually analyse the game properly.

          You asked for games he dominated, I gave you them. You responded by saying, variously, Picamoles played better in the France game (he carried better, as is his wont, I think it’s a stretch to say he played better in all aspects), and criticising the standard of one of the two HEC matches I mentioned while ignoring the other. You then further displayed your continuing complete ignorance by stating that the performance against Glasgow was worthless because it was in the Pro12. If you had actually seen that match, and I’m positive you haven’t, you would have seen that it was an incredibly intensely physical game, won with outstanding last-man defence from Munster, the lead exponent of which was POM.

          You think Copeland is superior. You think Diack is superior. You think any number of people are superior. But no-one who knows rugby agrees with you. No-one. Les Kiss, Declan Kidney, Tony McGahan, Joe Schmidt, the latter of whom is your rugby messiah. I know it’s an appeal to authority, but fuck it, I’m pretty confident they know better than one dude on his own on the internet. Soz brah.

          • Leinsterlion

             /  November 5, 2013

            Nice post brah, again you failed to see my point amongst my disjointed and deluded ramblings, no hard feelings. I’ll elaborate, although try to keep us this time. I’m not obsessed with “hardness” merely remarking that that aspect of his PERSONA, grabbing jerseys, pushing etc is overplayed, he is not Neil Best, he is not scaring anyone as I cant recall him ever decking someone or alternatively cutting them in half in a tackle.
            Simple English, you understand brah? He plays the hardman on the pitch with no actual actions to back it up ala Julian White or a Neil Best, he is a fraud…
            What Rob Kearneys poor defence has to do with this is beyond me, maybe if you improved your comprehension skills you would understand.

            As for his open field play you cite a pro 12 game, sorry I will never rate a Pro 12 league game, its the third tier of competition after HC and the latter stages of the Amlin. In most of his games at the highest level he hasnt shown up or graded out as either a top 6 or an 8, look at the majority of his Ireland caps. Suddenly he makes 19 tackles in a Pro 12 game and he’s Dusatoir in your eyes.
            Again I said Copeland is a superior 8, look at his performances and carries in comparision to POM’s carries from 8. Diack is a better 6 based on the past two years worth of performances from that position imo, why wasnt Diack picked? Why was SOB not picked for EONS, why was Geordan Murphy shunted to the wing or the bench?
            Coaches have favourites and a style of player they want. Schmidt dropped Carlos Spencer for Tasea Lavea, Tasea Lavea…. the Blues have literally won nothing since and have gone from muck outhalf to muck outhalf. Schmidt may be the messiah but he is not infallible, as for McGahan and the clown brigade I could list countless occasions of them picking players for irrational reasons like Tomas O Leary and the majority of Murrays Ireland caps shitshow.

            So yeah brah, nice comeback, you really put me in my box with that outstanding display of logic and faultless reasoning, POM has dominated games and is worthy of a NAILED ON 6 spot for Ireland even deserving to be mentioned as a CAPTAIN. All after dominating a pro 12 game and in your opinion having a stormer against the French that no one else saw. He’s a regular Andre Venter.

          • Steve

             /  November 5, 2013

            Big Brahs.

          • “Julian White and Neil Best were propah ‘ahd!”

            “Joe Schmidt dropped Carlos Spencer for Tasea Lavea and the Blues haven’t won anything since!”

            “Sean O’Brien didn’t get picked for Ireland for ages!”

            “Geordan Murphy was moved to the wing or to the bench!”

            “Robbie Diack is a better player than O’Mahony based on two years of performances!”

            “You’re saying O’Mahony is as good as Thierry Dusautoir or Andre Venter!”

            “You want O’Mahony to be Ireland captain!”

            A finer array of irrelevancies, logical fallacies, tangents, and straw men you’d struggle to find. Good work, even by your standards. Now, I don’t think I’m going to respond anymore, as this conversation has convinced me that you’re not actually a troll, but instead just a crazy person, and there is no speaking sense to you at all.

          • Leinsterlion

             /  November 6, 2013

            You mad?

  6. Len

     /  November 4, 2013

    Going to throw another name in for consideration (and I never thought I would be doing this) Conor Murray. For me Heaslip was and poor choice last year. He does the lead by example bit ok but seems to lack in the talking to the team and being in the refs ear but not this face ( think POM v Clever during the summer).
    Murray would seem to have a lot of the skills required and he’s also the least likely to loose his starting berth. Heaslip and POM hopefully will be competing for the 8 jersey by the 6N, Best could be a bench warmer if someone else figures out how to throw in well consistently and SOB doesn’t strike me as right for the role. Don’t be surprised if Joe defers the naming of a captain until the 6n and just uses stand-ins for this series.

  7. Rava

     /  November 4, 2013

    Paddy Wallace is injured lads, otherwise……………………

  8. Surely being called an absolute knob by Conor George is as fine a character reference as it’s possible to get? Only one choice now 😉

  9. curates_egg

     /  November 4, 2013

    Has to be a nailed on starter if all players are fit, who will be around for RWC2015. That brings it down to Healy, Best, O’Connell, Ryan, O’Brien, Heaslip, Murray, Sexton, Zebo, Bowe, Kearney – O’Mahony is likely to be a sure-fire starter but that depends on Ferris.

    Healy, O’Brien, Murray, Zebo and Bowe are not captain-material for me.

    Best, O’Connell and Heaslip are they obvious ones because they have done it. The Heaslip misadventure last year rules him out. For me, the fact that O’Connell is never guaranteed to be fit would make it tough to choose him. For Best, I wonder will he really be first choice in 2015?

    O’Mahony would be a forward-looking choice, and seems to be doing a great job at Munster, but is he a nailed-on starter if Ferris is fit?

    That brings us to Kearney, Sexton or Ryan – none of whom has ever captained their province but all of whom are clearly leaders in their squads. I don’t think a fullback captain makes a lot of sense and an outhalf has enough to do. Could Ryan do it? If so, why was O’Mahony chosen ahead of him?

    It is such a tough one for Schmidt. He will be lambasted if he does not pick O’Connell – and it will be necessarily linked to POCgate – but it does not seem to be a prudent choice, given O’Connell seems to be struggling to be fit for each and every game these days. He could mitigate the lambasting from the expected quarters by choosing O’Mahony but that is not quite so straightforward.

    • Rava

       /  November 4, 2013

      You list Best as a nailed on starter then question whether he will be first choice in 2015. No-one is guaranteed first choice in 2015, even Healy/SOB/Murray so we look at it based on the present then Joe must pick the BEST man for the job.

      I still think it’s POC by the way.

      • curates_egg

         /  November 4, 2013

        I think it is POC as well and think it is not the right choice. Much as I would like to believe it, I simply can’t see him staying fit for the next two years.

  10. Max Zorin

     /  November 4, 2013

    Schmidt was asked about making Sexton captain of Leinster (can’t remember if it was last year, or the year before). His reply was that Sexton was too cranky to be made captain. Not sure what has changed to alter that view.

    We all love Best, but surely he has enough pressure on him in terms of lineouts without distracting him with captaincy issues.

    Not keen on POM being captain until he shows that he’s matured beyond his faux hardman/”apres-incident handbags” phase. Maybe he has already, I admit I haven’t seen too many Munster games this season.

    Heaslip is at his best when left to his own devices (ie, without having to decide between 3 points vs a kick into the corner).

    It has to be O’Connell (with the clear instruction not to get involved in ball-carrying in the loose).

  11. abitofshoepie

     /  November 4, 2013

    For me, leaving it with Heaslip and making an investment in the future is the thing to do. He should have enough experience of tough cup games with Leinster to know what decisions to make and when. He always seem to be fit as well, which is pretty amazing for a back-rower. The post game thing will improve with experience.

    BOD and POC are natural leaders who will add their own wisdom and advice when needed. I read in the papers today that POC has accepted that these days he needs to just concentrate on getting himself fit for match day so not choosing him as el capitan would probably be a blessing for his game. Captaincy may dilute SOB’s monsterness and Rory needs to concentrate on his arrows and winning a trophy for Ulster!

  12. jojo

     /  November 4, 2013

    It’s been written so many times about players that if they are already leaders on the pitch, they needn’t become captain.Ergo, the person who becomes captain has some room to step up to in the leadership qualities, then for me the people who fit that mold are SOB and Murray. Both guaranteed starters and both relatively favoured by all supporters

    • curates_egg

       /  November 4, 2013

      That is a truly odd logic for selection of captain: the person should have room for improvement as a leader to be a good captain? Sure why not give it to Cian Healy or Simon Zebo then?

      • jojo

         /  November 7, 2013

        Well, thats kinda my point. Why do people always say if he’s already an on pitch leader dont select him as captain? you seem to suggest that

  13. Paddy

     /  November 4, 2013

    The outstanding candidates for me are BOD, POC and Best. Question marks over the first 2 because they won’t/might not make RWC15. I couldn’t care less if they get it as long as they’re on the pitch. Bests problem is his darts. Your credentials as a leader take a hammering if you’re having a bad day at the lineout. I think thats one of the things that made POC such a reassuring leader for his team. His Lineout work was brilliant!

    I was gonna say SOB for the same reason as Jojo. In terms of the leadership aspect he’s CDirector of Rugby at Tullow isn’t he? Seems to like more responsibility. But wonder will JS give the job to a relative novice the way Kidney did with Heaslip. Keith Wood was talking about that decision and compared it to how BOD was promoted to Captaincy in the run up to his retirement. BOD was told to stay close and pay attention to what he (Wood) was doing. I’m thinking it will be BOD with SOB told to pay attention. If it is BOD see whose watching him closely and listening closely to him chatting with the ref. I think SOB will improve as a 7(he won’t be going back to 6) if he’s more involved with the ref.

    Heaslip is the incumbent. I think a lot gets made of the headphones thing but it’s sh*te. I remember BOD doing a post match interview waving a bottle of something in the camera. I don’t think he did anything particularly badly, we were just poor! Though he did make some rookie mistakes. If POM continues to deliver at 8 for Munster then his spot will come under pressure(no bad thing). So he’s a definite starter now but for how long? Also despite the paucity of quality options at 8, I think the loss of SOB through injury would be worse for us. If you had to lose 1 of JH or SOB to injury who would you rather it was fit?

    • Seiko

       /  November 5, 2013

      The difference between BOD waving the bottle of water and Heislip at the coin toss is that BOD was a kid and Heislip was 29. The way he turned up for the jersey presentation from Geech at the Lions would also make you scratch your head about him (for those who didn’t see it, he was wearing jeans (no problem – most of the players were in casual clothes), but the arse of his jeans were down at the back of his knees and we were given an eyeful of his jocks. The guy is 29 or 30 – not a kid.

      I’m not sure why POC’s injury record is such an issue. Even if he is injured, it will keep one of our most influential players involved and give other guys in the squad an opportunity to captain the team if he isn’t playing. Not a bad way to develop leaders in the team without bogging them down with the full responsibility.

      • What is the point of captain who doesn’t play? I can see no logic in that. The role of the captain is mostly played out on the pitch. You seem to be letting your preference for one candidate cloud your judgement.

        • seiko

           /  November 6, 2013

          You are making an assumption that he will never be fit. I’m making an assumption that if if he is fit for 50%-60% of games, he will be worth having around.

          The captain will be influential on and off the pitch. (i.e., Woody had a hand in getting Gatland sacked!) Bearing in mind that Plumtree is new in the job and has declared that the lineout needs to be improved, even if he is interested, POC should be of assistance to him on the training pitch.

          If I have a preference for one candidate, its because he is an outstanding one.

      • Paddy

         /  November 6, 2013

        So your still arguing over sh*te that has nothing to do with happens on the pitch. “He’s 29, he’s wearing baggy trousers, won’t someone think of the children!” Like I said, it’s sh*te! Heaslip was the better player when he took Leamys place and since then he’s retired through injury……..build a bridge and get over it!

        • seiko

           /  November 6, 2013

          A captain’s job doesn’t end on the pitch. And what has Denis Leamy got to do with who is captain? You need to realise he has retired and get over it.

          • I think the reference is to the fact that Heaslip has always had it tough to win over Munster fans because he took Leamy’s place in the Ireland team.

            I have to say I find it bizarre that Heaslip’s preference of trouser width should have any bearing on his captaincy credentials. I cannot believe we live in a country so narrow-minded that someone who doesn’t fit the mould of the straight-laced rugby jock has to be treated with suspicion. He’s a bit free spirited, he wears a tongue stud – who the hell cares? He’s a nails-hard, fully commited, ridiculously durable and skilful No.8, who has three Heineken Cup winners medals, a Grand Slam and is a two-time Lion who played five tests out of the six. Yeah, but he listens to “rap music”…

          • seiko

             /  November 6, 2013

            I don’t think Heaslip took Leamy’s place. Up to 2008, Leamy played mainly at 6 for Munster as Foley was Munster’s no 8. When Simon Easterby retired, Heaslip got the 8 birth and Leamy moved to 6. Leamy was never the same after his operation in 2008 when he had a fantastic tour of NZ & Aus at No. 6. If Leamy had remained injury free, I doubt if Heaslip would have had such an easy ride with the No. 8 jersey. If anyone took Leamy’s spot, it was Ferris.

            I have no issue with Heaslip’s trouser width. It was this photo that is embarrassing.

          • Eh, yeah, Heaslip did indeed take Leamy’s place. He started at number 8 for the November 2005 internationals, all of the 2006 6 Nations, against South Africa and Australia in November 2006, all of the 2007 6 Nations, and our disastrous WC 2007 campaign. Essentially, he took Foley’s place from him after the 6 Nations in 2005. Heaslip overtook him during the 2008 6 Nations, and while Leamy was still a live option at 8 (starting in the Grand Slam campaign against Scotland in that position), he never really properly challenged Heaslip for that spot again.

            It had never occurred to me that Munster fans would be resentful of Heaslip for that reason. I know I certainly amen’t and wasn’t. It was ridiculous that O’Sullivan didn’t include Heaslip in his World Cup squad in 2007, and Heaslip kicked on to show that he was a better option at that point in time. He’s certainly a more natural 8 than Leaamy was (remember when he’d stick the ball between his feet and hop forward as the scrum advanced?), but Leamy’s sheer physicality at his peak was absolutely devastating. Munster fans’ antipathy toward Heaslip is probably more down to the drop-off in his carrying yards since his peak in 2009.

  14. Ro

     /  November 4, 2013

    You cant preedict who will be around in 2015 so for me POC is the main man and should get the gig. No one, no matter where they are from could argue with him as captain. However for this series maybe Joe wont pick one fulltime captain, there are already a list of on field leaders in that team (Best, POC, Heaslip, POM, Sexton, BOD). Wouldnt be surprised if BOD was named captain for the AB game.

  15. Yossarian

     /  November 5, 2013

    BOD was not an obvious candidate when he was made captain, there is merit making your best player captain. in that case it would be SOB, would also be a good way of keeping him playing in Ireland.
    Other than that it will be POC only downside of him being captain is how he has struggled with fitness the past few seasons. not much good to have the captain out injured too frequently and have a succession of stand in’s each week.

  16. Paddy o

     /  November 5, 2013

    I’m not so worried about who is captain. It is more important that they get better support than Heaslip was given last year. Only essential criteria for me is that they play their rugby in Ireland, so I’d agree with the lads that Sexton is a non-runner. There are a lot of good candidates, but no captain could deal with some of the stuff Heaslip had to handle last year.

  17. Mary Hinge

     /  November 5, 2013

    There will be no change. Heaslip will continue to captain.

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