Ireland Squad Outrage Episode No.358

Joe Schmidt named his squad for the opening Six Nations match yesterday, and the main talking points were that the make-up of the matchday front row have effectively been named, with Marty Moore now certain to make his debut in some form or other, and the Southern natives getting a little restless that just five of their number have been retained.

There’s no surprise whatsoever in Marty Moore’s selection.  It’s been a rapid rise to prominence for the Castleknock man, but also a reflection on the still-somewhat modest (but far greater than at any time in the last decade) resources Ireland have in the position.  The last round of the Heineken Cup saw him selected ahead of Mike Ross against an Ospreys side with a reputation for hard scrummaging.  It’s not yet clear cut as to whether he is now Leinster’s definitive first choice prop, but that game had a feeling of the baton being passed on.  With Declan Fitzpatrick once again injured, the only other option is Stephen Archer; the Munster prop has improved immeasurably since his nadir of being ground into the mud by the Scarlets’ reserve pack, but he is just simply not in Moore’s class when it comes to technique in the scrum.  Moore could even start against Scotland, and if he comes through that, he may never look back.

As for the weighty numbers of Leinster men in the squad and Munster’s dearth, well, it’s not simply a game of balancing things out among the provinces.  Leinster have been the dominant force in Europe for the last five years and if their star is on the wane a little, the void has yet to be filled.  If anyone looks like doing so, it will most likely be Ulster.

Munster have a great many good players who are just not quite as good as those selected ahead of them and two of their star turns who would undoubtedly be there if fit, Keith Earls and Donnacha Ryan, are injured.  Take David Kilcoyne.  He has finally got going after a slow start to the season, but Jack McGrath has been making hay all year, deputising superbly for Cian Healy when called upon, and won man of the match in his first cap against Samoa.  Damien Varley is a doughty fellow, but who in their right mind would select him ahead of Rory Best or Sean Cronin, who offers wild-card potential as an impact reserve.  Same goes for Archer.

One Munster player who can have some legitimate grievances is Simon ‘Sizzle Factor’ Zebo (What the hell was all that ‘sizzle factor’ business about; it’s not even a thing).  Zebo is just back from injury, but looked a real threat against Edinburgh.  With Bowe and Earls injured, we’d have considered him a potential starter.  In the back three, we know Rob Kearney will start and Luke Fitzgerald’s superb form demands inclusion.  Adding Zebo to those two would make for an imbalanced, all-left-footed back three, so we can see the reasons against it.

But on l’autre hand, it leaves Ireland choosing a right winger from Andrew Trimble, Fergus McFadden and Dave Kearney, all game, hard-working chaps but not hugely threatening in attack at test level.  The Kildare Lewis Moody is just back from injury himself and has had even less gametime than Zebo (though he is famed for his levels of natural fitness and ability to hit form quickly).  Trimble is having a good season, but he’s a player who has had umpteen chances at test rugby and yet to really make much of an impact.  Dave Kearney is another Mr Solid, and hasn’t really offered much of a spark for Leinster in recent weeks.  It just lacks a little pizazz, or as Gerry would no doubt say, x-factor.  We hate to speculate like this, because it’s not really fair, but it’s a (non-)selection that makes you wonder if something is up between management and Zebo.  The only other wing capable of offering the same explosiveness is Craig Gilroy, but he’s been struggling to get motoring in heavy traffic all season, and remains weak in contact.

The only other area where a picture has emerged is scrum-half.  Isaac Boss can consider himself unlucky having been man of the match in the Wolfhounds game, but it’s impossible to argue with the form of Conor Murray and Eoin Reddan, both superb this season and a near-perfect yin and yang in terms of what they offer on aggregate over 80 minutes.

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55 Comments

  1. I don’t think Munster can have too many legitimate grievances, and I say that as a Munster fan. As you say, Zebo is the one that stands out in terms of his finishing ability…but as you’ve observed before, McFadden has a surprisingly good strike rate and his kick chase is perhaps the best of any of the Irish three-quarters. High box kicks followed by a McFadden smash have seemed like an excellent way to dig the team out of tough situations and gain field position. It’s not always the prettiest, but it can be very effective. All three options for right wing are the kind of guys who can fit into a cohesive gameplan, and I’m wondering if perhaps that’s the goal rather than having a ‘star’ like Zebo. If Schmidt thinks those fellas can graft better than Zebo and take the chances their teammates create by running hard into gaps, he might feel like that fits better with the idea of a full-team gameplan. Zebo is obviously a better linebreaker than any of those three, a more instinctive runner who’s better at putting teammates into space, and grittier than anyone gives him credit for, but his attempts to trick defences to get around the corner can sometimes result in him getting isolated when his goosesteps don’t work.

    Moore is clearly ahead of Archer, although a lot of people would want to get over the idea that Archer’s a joke and actually watch him play (not yourselves, WoC). He’s pretty good, but Moore is better. Similarly, McGrath is clearly ahead of Kilcoyne. From a Munster perspective, the issue is that so is James Cronin. Although we’ve only seen him take on limited challenges, I think Cronin looks every bit as good as McGrath, and once he overtakes Kilcoyne at Munster, the depth Ireland has at loosehead will become truly ridiculous. I can’t say which of them will eventually emerge as Healy’s chief rival and eventual successor, but from what I’ve seen of both of McGrath and Cronin, they’re going to have an almighty battle for it.

    Finally, while I think he’s generally a good solid player, does anyone else agree with me that Isaac Boss was, to put it mildly, nowhere near being Man of the Match the other night? I thought he was very slow getting the ball away despite the dominance of the Irish pack, his pass lacked crispness, and he kicked poorly – twice when the pack was rumbling forward on the halfway line, DIRECTLY to an English defender. I would have loved to see what Marmion could do with the kind of ball Boss was being presented with. Although he took his try well, I felt like he was unwilling to have a go at actually attacking, and he kind of killed the game for those outside him.

    • Agree on Boss tbh. He has behind all the backrows and Henderson for me. Keatley and Marmion rightly got a lot of heat for kicking the ball away in the dying minutes but Boss was not blameless in the run up either.

      Also, as a fellow Munster fan, solid points re the unselected trio. Would agree with all of them. I think Zebo’s suspect defence which has been cited by some as a reason for being dropped is a myth. The reality is it’s a crowded field gunning for the wing slots right now and Schmidt was gone on form, versatility in McFadden and Fitzgerald, and what he knows. Although Zebo looked sharp enough on his return and has the ability to create something from nothing moreso than those remaining in the squad I can certainly understand the logic behind it even though I might not necessarily agree with it but hey I don’t pick the team and there’s no show like a Joe show. Would expect to see Zebo in consideration before the tournaments end, all going well with Munster.

      One last thing. Zebo is a player that’s going to be in the spotlight and that people are goign to have an opinion on, for a variety of reasons but I do think WOC and others are jumping the gun here in assuming there’s an issue with management. I know you’ve qualified it a bit here but I don’t think it’s fair based on the dropping of a newly returned player in the face of a lot of competition and I don’t think it would be happening if it was anyone else.

      • I’d agree with all of that Kate. If there was really a problem with management I doubt he’d have even gotten the 30 minutes he did. Frankly, Darren Cave just about went out of his way to create an issue with management and he’s still in the squad. I don’t think Joe is one for having issues with players – he knows he’s going to have a use for Zebo at some point, if he stays in the job. Even if he’s not crazy about Zebo’s form right now, he’d be a fool to utterly discard him – Earls and Fitzgerald were in atrocious form three years ago, and look at them now, the two form wings in the country. Players always talk about Joe letting them know what they need to work on, and I think if Zebo follows through on that, he’s likely to feature at some point.

        • I reckon he looked at what he had on offer, considered Zebo’s lack of game time, his deeper knowledge of the Leinster backs and the necessary balance across the three positions and went with the tangibles in front of him. Joe strikes me as the ultimate pragmatist so if there was an issue, which I doubt exists, I can’t see it being a real factor.

          • Definitely. Even if he didn’t like Zebo’s personality, I think if he thought was the best man, he’d have him in there. It’s up to Zebo now to show if he is that man.

        • Fair comments Kate & spacecoyote. You’re probably right, and like we say, it’s not really fair to speculate, but it did just make us ask the question in our own heads; why was Fergus McFadden being treated one way and Zebo a bit differently? There are a handful of outstanding players that a coach would drop straight into the test team regardless of how little gametime they’d had (Bowe, O’Connell, Healy, O’Brien) but we wouldn’t have had McFadden in that category.

          • I’d say he’s not really being treated differently, Schmidt looked at his versatility, dependability and prove track record of bouncing back from injury, both of which he has personal experience of so he came out on top in that decision. It looks like it was an either/or call rather than Zebo being subject to some other set of criteria.

          • Fair enough, but Schmidt has always been a McFadden fan, hasn’t he? As Kate says, I think he might just be going with what he trusts the most. I’d have Zebo down as a better player than McFadden, but I’ve disagreed with Joe before. I’m not ruling it out, but the guy seems to get on with pretty much everyone, at least publicly.

          • connachtexile

             /  January 28, 2014

            I think the injuries they suffered was a factor. McFadden was out with a hand injury meaning he could a huge amount more training than Zebo who was rehabbing his leg. One was always going to come back that much sharper than the other.

          • I know what you mean, Connachtexile, but if anything I thought Zebo looked a bit more threatening with ball in hand the other night. With that said, you always know the aggression McFadden’s going to bring, it’s a constant. Part of what’s been so good about Earls’ season this year is that he’s emulating that aggression – the chasing down kicks, the hard tackles, etc.

  2. Cian

     /  January 28, 2014

    It’s true that all of the calls made are legitimate, but there are a few issues worth addressing. First, I think a lot of Munster fans are wondering what Marty Moore has actually done to be considered such a great white hope, and in a different class to Stephen Archer. In the Wolfhounds game, for example, Archer did considerably better against the English scrum (Moore had a great game around the pitch, mind). I think Archer is really struggling to turn around his initial poor impression, but it’s a long time since he’s had serious trouble in the scrum, against anybody (including Cian Healy, for example), and has been part of a Munster scrum that has been on top in most matches this season. He’s also a great maul defender and a solid tackler. I’m not arguing that Moore shouldn’t have got the call, but I think it’s an awful lot closer than people are making out.

    Secondly, I really wish the red herring of “selecting on form” could be thrown out. On (the last month or so’s) form, Reddan would be ahead of Murray. However, I think it would be mad to start him in any major game because of his recent history in the particular role, his age, etc (he’ll probably have great impact off the bench). On form, Fergus McFadden is clearly nowhere. But he’s a solid player, does more than he’s given credit for and Schmidt trusts him. On form, Robbie Henshaw is well ahead of BOD. Coaches don’t pick on form, and there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s one of a number of factors, often not the major one.

    Finally, I have to disagree about Isaac Boss. His MOTM award for the Wolfhounds was laughable (Ruddock, TOD, Copeland, Tuohy were in a different league to him that day) and was purely used as ballast for Partridge’s “Ireland are more experienced” slant on things. He’s no more unlucky than Kieran Marmion.

    • Completely agree, history in the role is as important as form, and a coach who truly picked 100% on form probably wouldn’t do very well.

      Also agree on Boss, as I mentioned above. I think you’d be hard-pressed to find a forward who wasn’t better on the day.

    • Yossarian

       /  January 28, 2014

      With props its what he hasn’t done that has got him in(if you follow)as demented mole highlighted props are great until they aren’t. Moore hasn’t been found wanting yet. He has risen to each challenge and over come it.In games even when he struggles with the first scrum he learns on the job and adjusts to his opposition.
      Archer probably still being tarnished by his last outing in Green where he struggled against the Aussies.Not his fault as analysis would show the whole scrum struggled at that stage but he is probably getting the flak now.

      • Cian

         /  January 28, 2014

        That’s a fair enough point about Moore, it does make sense to see if he’s up to it at the next level. It just seems a little harsh on Archer to say that he’s not in the same league when, broadly, they’ve done more or less the same thing over the past season (coped well with all comers when they’ve played in the HEC and big Rabo games, occasionally been destructive). Moore could well put down a marker as an Ireland starter over this 6N, and then it would be justified to call him a class above, but he hasn’t done it yet.

        You could be right about the Aussie game, although I’ve a notion that some people still think of Archer in terms of his performances before the scrummaging law changes, when he was often mangled. What he tends to do now is engage, take half a second to adjust his body position, and then become very very hard to shift.

  3. A lot of talk (instigated by yours truly) on reddit revolved around who’ll partner Paulie in the second row. I put Tuohy beside POC and NWJMB on the bench in a predictive 23 because I felt Tuohy was probably the form lock in Ireland outside of Paulie, but I also conceded that Toner gives a lot of safety at the lineout.

    A lot of things that people were frothing at the mouth to complain about Toner (destabilising scrums, poor open play, poor ruck play, the only thing that didn’t come up was “not having the face”) were largely rendered null in the AIs, and he *is* the incumbent.

    As an Ulsterman, I’m delighted to see 8 (EIGHT), representatives in the squad, whilst steeling myself for the inevitable “only Best and Henry will make the starting XV”. I’d have started Bamm Bamm and maybe Paddy (and Marty Moore) against the Scots, but a lot of people (probably correctly) are saying Joe will want to open all guns blazing and go (to quote Hugh Farrelly (grudgingly)) “The only way is Leinster” and pick Beardy, Rossy and Johnny.

    Personally I’d like to see more depth involved in the first squad, because of 6-day turnarounds and wanting to batter the Welsh etc.

    • Totally agree on depth, there are a lot of guys challenging for spots in the matchday squad and I think both the present and the future will work better if guys see their work being rewarded, because lots of guys will be able to do a job in there.

  4. I was very disappointed with Zebo’s defence in the Wolfhounds match. I thought his leaving the area close to the right flag in the Irish goal area at the time of the very last ruck, thereby allowing Freddie Burns a straight leap ahead, was negligent. Perhaps JS saw it the same way. Whether or which, Zebo is a hugely talented player, who with the right guidance will make his mark in international rugby – before this 6 Nations is even over, perhaps.

    • This sentiment has been expressed by a lot of people – let me just point out that as far as I could see Zebo came from the opposite wing to prevent the try initially, and while he could have done better at that ruck, the try would already have been scored without his intervention. He got lucky with Burns’ mistake, but I think it’s a bit flawed to blame him since the initial break occurred a long way from him, and he actually did well to get across. Regardless, I don’t think one ruck is enough to judge a player’s defence on, and as someone who watches pretty much every match he plays in, I’ve rarely if ever noticed him defending poorly. I wouldn’t say he’s an EXCELLENT defender – his hits can sometimes lack power, so while he puts guys to ground, he’s not always as physical as he could be. But he also doesn’t make a lot of mistakes.

  5. Schmidt had said in advance of announcing the trimmed squad that Zebo and Gilroy were both short on game time. Maybe that’s just cushioning the forthcoming blow – Ferg has played how much since November? – or maybe they do look undercooked.

    There’s no doubt in my mind that Zebo’s looked very sharp in the past couple of weeks and would/will be in the squad if/when fit. Tbh, Gilroy’s form has been so-so, and I’d agree he needs some more time with Ulster.

    As for the interprovincial bickering… lots of it unedifying, as usual, but (maybe this is just me) I get the impression it’s perhaps improving? There will always be some dumb f*cks whose basic pleasures in life are the classic ironic partnership of antagonising others and getting righteously indignant about spurious injustices. Best ignored.

    Were I picking the team for this week, (for numerous reasons) it would be:

    Healy, Best, Moore
    Toner, O’Connell
    O’Mahony, Heaslip, Henry
    Murray
    Sexton
    Fitzgerald, Marshall, O’Driscoll, Dave Kearney
    Rob Kearney

    Cronin, McGrath, Ross, Tuohy, Henderson, O’Donnell, Reddan, Madigan

    The 6/2 split is because I think we need to see some gametime for all of Tuohy, Henderson and O’Donnell. Another option would be to save either of O’Mahony or Henry for the Wales game, and start with Henderson or O’Donnell respectively, and sticking Ferg on the bench.

  6. People are happy to trot out the mantra that Trimble has had opportunities at international level and hasn’t grasped them. It is becoming quite fashionable and one of those trite ways to patronise and belittle a player in order to bump up that of another. Darren cave played 7 minutes against N.Z. and was instantly deemed not up to it. This despite the fact the guys he come on for had been dry humped. Trimble (nor Cave) is no world beater. Like most players, he has weaknesses. He seems to have worked on his fielding and kicking and has improved immeasurably.
    He has started 38 games for Ireland and scored 12 tries. Played 176 games for Ulster and scored 57 tries.
    Luke ‘The Flash” Fitzgerald, the ‘Blessed One’ it seems, – Started 19 games for Ireland and scored 2 tries in one game against Italy. Played 121 games for a much superior Leinster and scored 29 tries.
    Now, who do you think has made more of their opportunities? Fitz certainly plays eye catching rugby. Trimble wouldn’t be my first call but let’s not use blether to dismiss players.

    • The Trimble/Fitzgerald contrast (and similarly the contrast between Earls, who was picked when O’Driscoll was injured, and Cave, who wasn’t) illustrates an interesting heuristic we use to think about players. Basically, we always favour guys with eye-catching skills like out-and-out pace. There’s a sense in which we tend to think we can’t NOT pick our best “athletes” (measured in these cases in terms of raw speed), even if we’re leaving out guys who might do the basics just as well or better. I’ve never been that impressed by Cave in the past, but maybe I wasn’t appreciating properly his short passing game and ability to put a player into space as a 13 (which, for all that I think Earls was unduly criticised during his time in that jersey, he never really had to the same extent). Similarly, maybe we underestimate Trimble’s massive physicality just because he’s never going to pose quite the same danger of breaking the line that Fitzgerald does. Every province has guys like this whose contributions aren’t as obvious and who consequently get ignored (like James Coughlan’s ridiculous ability to run back the kickoff for positive yardage, or Shane Jennings’ ability over the ball), even though fans of their provinces always know their worth. I’d go with Fitzgerald this weekend because he’s in SUCH a rich vein of form, but as we’ve seen in the past with him, you get a lot of ups and downs.

    • Leinsterlion

       /  January 28, 2014

      You basically answered your own point, Fitzgerald is an exciting player, capable of line breaks and getting in behind the defence, has great footwork etc. Trimble is physical and hardworking, a trier, compare the amount of chances he creates, leaves his position etc. Simply put Fitzgerald, poor strike rate though he has, creates line breaks and tries, Trimble doesnt(to the same extent).

    • Well said sir. Mark Anscombe is no fool and Trimby is the first name on his team sheet (well, maybe second after Ruan). The criticism seems excessive, particularly after he was caught a little out of position for a kick against the Saffa’s the autumn before last. He has been consistently excellent for Ulster and brings much needed bulk and physicality to what is a relatively lightweight test-level back division.

      I was quite amused when Dave McIntyre reeled off a list of competitors for the wing berth when interviewing Lukey Fitz but left out Trimble. I suspect he was gobsmacked when the Ballymena flyer was included in the reduced squad.

  7. Bueller

     /  January 28, 2014

    As a Munster fan it is a bit disappointing not to see more in the squad but I don’ have any qualms really and I don’t think any Munster fans do in all honesty (Not sure where the “southern natives restlessness” has been in evidence). Schmidt definitely has a bit of an eye for the Leinster players but I don’t see that as a bad thing at all. He is trying to build something and if he reckons a 50-50 call is better suited to a Leinster player due to his more intimate knowledge/trust in them then it is the right call – he shouldn’t give a sh*t what any provinces fans will think, if it will get the job done!
    It does seem a little odd that the Munster pack essentially man handled Ulster and gave Leinster a bit of a doing in the scrum yet Leinster have 5 front rows ahead of them but again neither Kilcoyne or Archer have any case to feel disappointed (if they had been selected I don’t think the others could either…as Cian Healy is the only stand out prop in the country….the rest are on a very level playing field if you ask me).

    • Bueller

       /  January 28, 2014

      And as for D Varley I have no idea how the man made it past junior club level let alone an Irish squad……Shocking player and should have received an out-right ban for that ridiculous pass vs Edinburgh which resulted in Earls’ injury..

      • Thanks Bueller – re: the restless natives, we’d a cursory glance at Munsterfans (for what it’s worth, it’s a pretty hysterical forum) and a couple of our Munster chums on facebook were ranting and raving; but we take your point that many others were sanguine.

        In the front row, Mike Ross has been the weak link this year and appears to be hanging on to his shirt for dear life. As you say, Healy is a cut above. Kilcoyne and Archer are also good players, so we do have a little bit of depth there now.

        But poor old Varley, that’s a bit harsh! He’s a poor technician in the lineout, but one of the best around at jackaling over the ball.

        • Bueller

           /  January 28, 2014

          He’s good in the break-down and that is literally it! I don’t think that’s remotely good enough for professional rugby. He seems like a decent bloke and apparently he can sing so it is possibly a little harsh to rip into him like that but I think it is players like him who hold us back as a rugby nation – Dead-weight tight 5s with no footballing ability. He has a decent crash ball if the pass is literally put on a pillow for him otherwise he will drop it, he cant pass, cant run a line, often cant throw into the line-out….I player cammed him in the warm-up pre Saracens v Munster in Watford last year when he was on the bench. He spent about 5 minutes in the corner on his own attempting to throw the ball as high as he could in the air and then catching it….he failed every single time – it was embarrassing to watch – I hadn’t seen anything as bad since u12s! All the ‘honesty and bravery’ in the world cant make up for lack of basic abilities and as evidenced v Edinburgh it actually resulted in our most talented player getting injured trying to mop up his mistake. Not blaming him…blaming the system that got him this far purely on the basis of being the right shape and size.

          • Paddy

             /  January 28, 2014

            But what about the dog…he’s got the dog man!.

            Though seriously that’s pretty harsh. I’ll take you at your word though as I haven’t seen him a whole lot. He is a bit like many Irish tight 5 players, useful in some aspects but lacking a little in core function(Cronin- Hooker that can’t hook). We’ve had that for years with TH props. Guys who were good around the field but not really up to much in the scrum.

            I thought Munster got lucky with some of the calls in the scrum as I thought they were getting the shove on early. Also our scrum has been solid except for Cronins inability to hook the ball.

          • Ah I can’t agree with you Bueller. Varley is having a really good year, no matter what he does warming up. He’s fantastic on the floor, he’s throwing pretty well this year, the scrum’s going well and he makes decent yardage when taking it up the middle (aside from being pretty good when he catches in space as well). I was passionately against Varley but in the past two years he has really won me over. He might not be as good as Best or Cronin, but he’s not far off.

  8. Rumour has it that Zebo was left out as a kick in the arse after how he looked after himself (or didnt) in the summer after the Lions, he was taken to task and he spent a lot of time training on his own in Munster due to a lack of basic fitness and coming back more than a little bit tubby

    I would still have had him in the squad as i think along with Earls and Bowe he is our best winger and i would be more comfortable with him covering FB that anyone else currently in the squad but in Joe we trust

  9. Sound Steve

     /  January 28, 2014

    Moore looks like a serious prospect but I would be worried with him as a starting TH. The famed scrum turnover versus the Ospreys earlier this season was very much against the tide at the time. That said, he is developing very quickly merits his place on the bench next weekend. The new scrummaging laws seem to have negated the influence of the technically superior TH (see Mike Ross, Adam Jones) in favour of the wrestler, quite sad in a way… I think Archer deserves a bit more credit as the TH situation in Munster seems to be mirrored in Leinster as Archer seems to be in the process of unseating Botha. The loosehead bench spot is arguably the most competitive spot in Irish rugby at the moment. I personally see very little between say James Cronin (not even in the extended squad) and Jack McGrath to be honest and a Lion (lol) can’t even make the extended squad! No one even mentions Callum Black, Brett Wilkinson and Denis Buckley and they all also seem very competent players from what I’ve seen.

    A real area of concern for me are the outside backs, outside of 9 and 10, where we seem to lack real game breakers. With all due respect to McFadden, and he really doesn’t deserve the hard time he gets, but when he’s your most potent outside back in the Autumn series, you should be a little worried. I’m disappointed Earls is injured because, infuriating as he may be, he can break a line. If only he could work out how to carry the ball in two hands and stop trying to score Try of The Season as I find Dave Kearney solid but distinctly uninspiring…

  10. Leinsterlion

     /  January 28, 2014

    I know its only Scotland, but our presumed starting backline is going to be seriously lacking in pace. Fitzgerald aside(whose game is more east west than north south anyway), from Murray to Rob Kearney would anyone put money on them winning a foot race? I know Schmidts systems blah blah, collective, clever running etc, but you still need pace, especially when you are facing a tough defensive side with minimal prep time for gelling.
    I would drop BOD and stick Marshall at 13, its Scotland and a bit of threat on attack is more important than defending against Scotlands non existent attack.
    Right wing is a massive problem, as mentioned by others, McFadden doughty yeoman that he is, is short of game time and isnt really that threatening.
    I wouldn’t play Sexton or only give him 50/60mins, he played the full RM92 game so isnt in need of game time.
    As for the pack surely this is a chance with SOB out to pick a back row that does an equal body of work and has some semblance of cohesiveness….

    • osheaf01

       /  January 28, 2014

      Marshall’s a 12, and a kid, and he did a lot of damage at 12 against the Scots last season, so don’t do an Earls Mk 2 on him and start shunting him around the backline. 12 is his position. I’d like Marshall to play, but it would be tough on Darcy to drop him after his last performance against BNZ.
      If you’re going to drop BOD, you play Cave or Henshaw or even Fitzgerald at 13.
      Right wing: Trimble. It’s his best position, Visser isn’t playing so defence less of an issue, and he’s in form.
      Schmidt probably won’t look beyond a Leinster Backline though.

      Sexton has to play, the other 2 options aren’t at his level yet. This is Scotland in the 6 Nations, a nation we tend to lose to when we underestimate them. Approach the game as if they’re France in Paris, and we’ll be fine.

      Backrow: O’Mahony, Heaslip and Henry, with TOD (out and out 7) and Henderson (covering lock and 6) on the bench. If Heaslip gets injured, move POM to 8.

      • Leinsterlion

         /  January 28, 2014

        Darce is the best 12 in the country and barring his form falling off a cliff/injury he should hang onto the jersey till the WC, Drico is on the farewell tour , and of his back ups, Cave or Henshaw ,are NOT international class, and Fitzgerald is our only threat out wide. Surely the Scotland game is as good as any to see is it at least a runner playing him at thirteen? He has everything about him to play the position.

        Trimble at right wing is an utter white bread selection, he’s such a boring one note player, you could make a nordie parody out of it. He’s in good form for Ulster, but he doesn’t have the guile/pace to be a serious selection at international level, a carthorse of a player.

        Sexton doesnt have to play, this is Scotland, look at their backline, Madigan would tear them apart, hes not playing under MOC. We dont have Kidney coaching us, a loss is so far beyond the realms of possibility, Scotland are a terrible side with some tough forwards and good individuals, thats about it.

        As for the backrow, this is an acid test of POMs credentials as an international 6 without SOB doing half his job. He’s up against a solid Scottish unit and he’ll have to up everything.

        • osheaf01

           /  January 28, 2014

          “Sexton doesnt have to play, this is Scotland, look at their backline, Madigan would tear them apart, hes not playing under MOC. We dont have Kidney coaching us, a loss is so far beyond the realms of possibility, Scotland are a terrible side with some tough forwards and good individuals, thats about it.”

          Hubris, swiftly followed by…?

          Start Sexton, wrap the game up, if possible, as early as possible, then give Madigan a run if/when we’re 20 points up and a bit of flair won’t hurt.

          Maybe I’m showing my age, but I haven’t forgotten the Nineties, when we couldn’t buy a win over Scotland. Or even 2001, when we blew a Grand Slam (as it eventuated) against them.

          • Leinsterlion

             /  January 28, 2014

            The past, especially that from so long ago, late 90’s early 00’s, bears no relevance to modern, especially Irish, rugby. This iteration of Scotland are in the main, awful, defend well, but are an awful side, Tier 2 rugby nation. We shouldn’t fear them.

        • A few things Leinsterlion, You speak about BoD as if he were the rampaging 25 year old of halcyon days not the player he is now with a 60% tackle success rate in the heineken cup, International rugby is no place for sentiment or a valedictory tour no matter how much of a legend any player is, BoD is in poor form and has the potential to be a liability in this 6 nations.

          Now for every defensive performance like against New Zealand there are poor games against Samoa and Oz, for every Northampton away there is a Castres away, if he plays it will be because D’Arcy is in very good form, is playing well and Joe may want familiarity in the centre, especially with Sexton inside them

          Regards D’Arcy there is not much between him and Marshall and in the physical aspects of the game I would have Marshall ahead while lacking some of D’arcys nous and reading of the game I don’t think 18 months out you should be guaranteeing anyone in the back line their jersey, apart maybe from maybe Murray.

          Trimble is exactly the same sort of winger as Fergus and Dave Kearney, committed physical quick if you tend to characterise them as cart horses feel free, Luuuuuuke by contrast seems to have a huge cheer leading chorus for having done frankly tsrofa at international level (although perhaps playing in a Joe run team will see him improve his international try scoring strike rate)

          • Leinsterlion

             /  January 28, 2014

            All good points, hence why I was mooting the Marshall be tried at 13.

            As I have stated numerous times on here I’m not a fan of McFadden or Dave Kearney, so another winger in that uninspiring mold in Trimble is hardly going to be cheered on by me. they strike me as full backs or pacy centers converted into wingers. Where are our Clercs, Heymans etc. Zebo, Fitz, Gilroy, Earls and Carr are exciting wing options with pace and footwork, I’d pick any of them over Trimble.

            Again on picking on form, Darce has said he’ll be here until the WC, i’d obviously advocate rotation, I was calling for him to dropped before the Un-zee game! I would stick Marshall at 13 and play both until a thriteen sticks their hand up.

            I dont know where you get from what Ive posted that I think Drico should be at13, I’d stick Marshall there and until Henshaw/Cave displays anything of note, Drico deserves his place.

      • Xyz

         /  January 28, 2014

        I think we need to get away from thinking in terms of “dropping” Darce for Marshall. They are different kinds of 12 and Joe will pick based on his strategy for the game. I would have thought it would make sense to have Marshall there against a Scottish side, in Dublin, that probably aren’t going to be great shakes in attack. Then go for a more experienced “away” selection. The same logic could be used in other positions.

        • Leinsterlion

           /  January 28, 2014

          I agree entirely, rotation would be the best policy, but would you bank on a 13 jersey manned by either Henshaw or Cave? I’d rather see Marshall there NOW, to see can he step up and do a job against a Scottish team who I think are a poor side. He can revert back to Darces understudy/job share afterwords, a bit of experimentation is worth a shot imo

          • osheaf01

             /  January 29, 2014

            What was insane was playing Cave at 12 in the Wolfhounds game.
            I know they probably wanted to take a look at both him and Henshaw, but Cave is a 13 or he’s nothing, for the moment.
            I’m very worried about BOD, to be honest; think he will be targetted by Wales/England/France.

  11. Len

     /  January 28, 2014

    Some how managed to post this reply under the wrong heading – obviously as a man I can’t multi task!

    Lads good points as always. On the whole provincial outrage it’s interesting to see a bit of a shift on both the Indo and score where such comments are now met with three comments telling the outraged person to shut up. I think the sensible rugby fans are finally speaking up. On Zebo I can see reasons for and against ie ability v lack of game time. I was surprised at McF given lack of game time but then I remembered his injury was a hand injury (I think) which would have less impact on his general fitness than say a leg injury like Zebo. Re DKs lack of attacking edge of late I think this is linked to Jimmy G’s tendency to run laterally leaving his outside backs with less room to operate. I would expect to see more from presentable Dave in the green

  12. zdm

     /  January 28, 2014

    I’m disappointed, this is the first squad in a long time that has given me little to complain about. I’d say that it is generally the best group of rugby playing men available to us at the minute.

    With regard to Zebo (and Gilroy), I think we are overlooking the opposition – Scotland and Italy have two things in common – a powder-puff halfback line and some gargantuan-but-mobile back rowers. Expect our wings to be used as “crash centres” off line-out ball in the hope of frightening Orquera out of the game. Scotland and Italy both offer their best attacking options in their back-row, with the likes of Parisee fond of a canter in the wide channels so a wing combination, as unglamorous as it sounds, of McFadden/Trimble is probably our best choice tactically speaking.

  13. Declan

     /  January 28, 2014

    Without kicking off the whole ‘he said she said’ Munster – Leinster nonsense isn’t it great that me kidney has moved on and selections appear to be made on some sort of form? As a committed blue nose, sure I rate Leinster players highly but there has to be some semblance of logic to Joes pick’s, no ?
    Regards the Zebo non selection, Joe appears to be placing a lot of merit on defence. Seems similar to how Fionn Carr was viewed by Joe. Great going forward but was stained by his defence.
    While we’re kicking kidney (I’m not baiting Munster heads, honest!) didn’t it seem he came to the correct selection decisions 12 to 18 months too late ?

    • Cian

       /  January 28, 2014

      I couldn’t disagree more with what you’ve said, I don’t think it has the slightest basis in fact. Calls that Schmidt has made that have nothing to do with form include McFadden, BOD, and arguably presentable Dave, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with any of those selections. He has picked no more or less “on form” than Kidney did: he has balanced up all the factors, as he sees them, and chosen his preferred players. BOD now might be the most out of form starter for an Irish team in a long time, but we all know he could pull out a few brilliant performances. As an aside, the Zebo defence thing doesn’t hold water. He’s a fine defender, not brilliant but fine, not as good as McFadden or Trimble but no worse than DK or Fitz.

    • I really have no idea where the received internet wisdom that Zebo is a bad defender comes from. His positioning was poor at times the season before last, and he doesn’t smash people in the tackle, but I don’t recall him ever making any major howlers at all, really. By contrast, you can easily pull out examples from Earls, Rob Kearney, and McFadden’s pasts where they’ve been caught out quite badly, and yet, with the exception of Earls, they don’t get half as much grief. On top of that, he’s made two try-saving interventions in his last two games, so I’d be fairly certain it’s not his defence Joe is worried about. His conditioning, now, that may be another matter…

      • Bueller

         /  January 28, 2014

        I am a massive Zebo fan and would def have him in the squad but if you are looking for an example please refer to his most recent minute of televised rugby. He leaves the blind guard position open and almost asks England to flop over and score….not good enough at international level!

    • Ciano

       /  January 28, 2014

      Amen Decco!

      I saw that the Sunday Times rightly claimed this week that: “It’s impossible to get dropped from the Ireland squad”

      Hopefully now that culture will be cleaned out.

      Two profoundly successful coaches in Brian Cody and Alex Fergusson both profess the importance of not caring about the who but only the what.

      The message it sends to both established and developing players is immeasurable!

  14. Ireland's Answer (allthingsrugby1)

     /  January 28, 2014

    I think when you look at from a Munster point of view you can’t have too many complaints. In a 34 man squad you’d probably expect a 5th prop Archer or Kilcoyne and maybe a third hooker where Sherry if fit would have surely got a call. As you said Ryan and Earls would also have definitely made it.

    Zebo is incredibly unlucky offers more versatility than D Kearney, Trimble and Felix and hell of a lot more going forward too.

  15. Ciano

     /  January 28, 2014

    When are we going to update our beliefs about Mc Fadden’s suitability for Test rugby?

    What is he going to have to do to be recognised?

    Is it perhaps because we’ve lost many of the games where he individually shone?

  16. hulkinator

     /  January 28, 2014

    I don’t think us Munster folk can have too many complaints. Schmidt has proven how good he is already so I would trust him to pick the right team. Lots of benefit of the doubt going to Leinster players it must be said but maybe that’s because they know his style of play best and that is crucial for him, which I agree with.

    It must be said also that for the last decade or so ulster and Leinster fans were complaining about a lack of their players being selected.

  17. zdm

     /  January 28, 2014

    As an aside, any chance of some content on the women’s 6N? I seem to recall a good post-event review on here? Or was it mole?

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