Crisis? What Crisis?

Remember Ireland’s Tighthead Crisis ™? After John Hayes was put out to pasture after the 2010 November internationals, and Mushy failed to last 40 minutes against England Saxons, Deccie turned to Mike Ross as pretty much the last Irish tighthead left standing. The one-man Scrummaging IMF subsequently gave Ireland’s scrum a solidity not seen in aeons, and even the ability to occasionally use the set piece as an attacking weapon. But behind him, the cupboard was still pretty bare – as Patsy Court will know after his shellacking (literally, from the England front row, and figuratively, from the Irish press) playing out of position in Twickers.

It was two years ago when the IRFU declared foreigners non grata in Irish rugger circles, particularly at tighthead which appeared the only position where there was an issue, in an effort to increase the number of eligible Irish internationals available to Deccie and his successors. Now, and due in no part whatsoever to those rules which hven’t even been applied in the one position they were brought in for, Ireland now have three tightheads who you would be comfortable starting in a big game:

  • Mike Ross might be slowing down, but is still around, and is the incumbent – being flogged around North America in June into the bargain.  The new scrum calls, however, do not appear to have helped his game
  • Deccie Fitz has a start in New Zealand under his belt, and when he is fit, he looks good, but is once again unavailable through injury – he’ll need to be fit for longer now that he’ll be Ulster’s number one next season and the Ulster conditioning team should be working day and night on a plan that gets the most value out of him, because he will be a valuable resource
  • Marty Mooradze has been Leinster’s most impressive prop this season, and has possibly nudged ahead of Ross in the provincial reckoning having started the final pool match in the Heineken Cup

Behind them, we have the Possibles, who are coming up on the rails but would still have us watching through our fingers against a big international scrum:

  • Stephen Archer has improved exponentially since being minced by the Scarlets 12 months ago – however he’s still behind BJ Botha at provincial level
  • Rodney Ah Here might have been shunted around Allianz Park by Mako Vunipola, who himself was shunted around Suncorp by Ben Alexander, but the new rules have (apparently) made him less ineffective and he has been brought into the national setup early. Presumably the Milky Bar Kid has seen something he likes and thinks he will benefit from some targetted coaching
  • Michael Bent … er … he has a hurl you know!
  • Nathan White will be Irish at the end of the year

At Academy level, the cupboard looks ok as well – Tadgh Furlong and Adam Macklin are the next generation in Leinster and Ulster.

Put it like this, it isn’t a crisis any more, and there is competition for places. So who starts? Its tough to make a case for Mike Ross given his decline over the last 18 months, and how Moore has surpassed him at Leinster – it seemed inevitable he would bypass him by year end, and with the process aleready appearing to take place, it puts Ross’ place in green in jeopardy. The smart thing to do, in the short and long term, is to give Moore a series of starts, especially with Scotland as the first test, with Ross on the bench as backup.  If he gets through that test, he may well find himself starting and finishing the series as number one.

So what about the rest of the Irish pack?

DJ Church and Besty will pack down alongside Moore in our fantasy pack, but both will feel hot breath on their necks, and it isn’t just the Irish press corps salivating on them; judging by recent form it is bringing the best out in them both. Jack McGrath has covered manfully for Cian Healy this sesaon and has already made a splash at international level, with Dave Kilcoyne the next man up – as usual Patsy Court is the fall guy. At hooker, the return of Risteard O hOstrais is fantastic news and increases the stiff competition at the level below Besty.  All the rest are curate’s eggs: Sean Cronin is manic around the park but can’t throw, Damien Varley is brilliant in the scrum and (especially) at ruck time, but can’t throw, and Mike Sherry is Jocky Wilson with the darts, but Owen Wilson in the tight (and injured in any case). The improving Rob Herring adds to the depth chart.

More competition at lock is good news – Paul O’Connell is inked in (presuming he is fit) and there are plenty of contenders for the No.4 shirt, even with Donnacha Ryan injured (thouh he may appear before the end of the series). Lighthouse Toner had a great November series and has continued to show incremental progression at Leinster – he is currently favourite. Jostling with him are Mike McCarthy, who has gradually got going this season and provides grunt in the middle of the pack and NWJMB, the coming kid of Irish forward play, who is simply astonishingly good. Toner looks set to start, though it would be a very Joe Schmidt move to bring McCarthy in for the away matches against the beef-heavy English and French packs. NWJMB to reprise his role with Ulster as impact substitute?

Sean O’Brien’s unfortunate injury looks to have opened the door for Chris Henry – Henry has been unlucky with the timing of injuries himself and would assuredly have more caps by now if always fit. As it stands, he’s a Schmidt favourite and his body of work of the last 24 months should be sufficient to see off stiff competition from Tommy O’Donnell. The assumption here is that POM and Jamie Heaslip are inked in at 6 and 8 and the two look part of the ‘core’ that will play all five matches, fitness permitting.

As usual, Ireland are well covered in the backrow.  Robin Copeland and Rhys Ruddock are regularly playing HEC rugby, and Jordi Murphy has forced his way into the reckoning.  Roger Wilson can’t even get in the squad, despite playing his best game (in this stint at Ravers) for Ulster in their epic victory over Leicester. Depending on Schmidt’s preference (and injuries), there is a non-zero possibility of each of them making the matchday 23, but Tommy O’Donnell looks best positioned to cover the backrow on the bench, and has impressed with how quickly he has found form since a lengthy injury lay-off.  He covers 6 and 8 effectively and if Jamie Heaslip were to get injured, which never happens anyway, Peter O’Mahony could move acros to No.8.

All in, the pack looks strong and deep. If we compare to the 2009 Grand Slam pack, the starting and backup props look superior (sorry, Tom), and the depth at second row is much better (sorry, Micko). On the flip side, you don’t have Jirry, Fez, Wally or Paul O’Connell at his peak – but it’s a unit which looks well-able to compete with the other nations. Mind you, our forwards have never really been the problem – inconsistent half-back selection (chopping and changing constantly, and a lack of faith in provincial partnerships) and anaemic attacking play have been far more of an issue in recent years. We’ll look at the backs tomorrow.

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59 Comments

  1. Whats that?

     /  January 29, 2014

    Leicester not Leinster

  2. I’d have thought Dan Tuohy could have gotten a mention at lock, but things are pretty crowded in the engine room so I guess it’s ok! I would love to see Copeland or POM get a game at 8 instead of Heaslip. Jamie hasn’t done anything wrong but you made the point of Church and Rory coming into peak form as a result of competition, but Jamie (and to a certain extent POM) have gotten a bit of an armchair ride in their positions over the last couple of years.

    (Ulster beat Leicester, not Leinster. Freudian slip?)

    • You’re right Phil, Tuohy probably deserves a mention. He’s in the squad but is probably just that rung down the pecking order, and while he gets picked ahead of Henderson for Ulster, he probably doesn’t offer the same impact off the bench. Good player, though.

      Can’t really agree about the backrow. With SOB out we will need our best carriers to put in some huge shifts, and for that I would see POM and Heaslip as being massively important.

      • zdm

         /  January 29, 2014

        At the risk of sounding curmudgeonly, can someone please explain what Toner offers the Irish team that Tuohy doesn’t? I honestly can’t get my head around how Toner has suddenly become our second-best lock while Tuohy isn’t even at the ball game? I can understand that their relative talents are different but in every analysis, Tuohy is the more rounded 2nd row, suits Ireland’s style of play and is the form player.

        • Poor old Devin Toner, he really does get a hard time of it. He’s a lighthouse at lineout time, great at restart catching and the other facets of his game are improving all the time. One thing he does offer is excellent handling of the ball, which is rare for Irish tight forwards. He’s very comfortable taking and giving a pass far away from the ruck. It’s a pretty valuable skill as defenders can be surprised to see such a huge chap not just runnign straight at them!

          • Touhy’s handling and running skills are superior to Toner’s. For all Toner’s height, he rarely steals opposition line out. Touhy does. He is one of the top l/o takers on the oppo. throw. Tuohy has the pace of a flanker which in an 18 stone guy is pretty impressive. He can run and pass at pace and is a devastating tackler. Ask Leicester or the hapless Saxons who he battered continually. Both players have their place. I just feel that Touhy is better at most. His l/o and tackling stats for example are pretty impressive yet get constantly ignored as if he doesn’t exist. 6 l/o and 10 tackles v. Tigers, 6 l/o/ and 16 tackles v. Saxons. He is a worthy squad member.

          • Don Alfonso

             /  January 29, 2014

            Someone asks “Is Dan Tuohy not in the running?” and, quite literally, the first line of the response is “Poor old Devin Toner”, with a long list of his many fine attributes.

            I don’t want to derail anything, but remember that blog post recently about the Southern media’s attitude to Ulstermen…?

            “Ooooooohhhh, Devin “Soft Hands” Toner!”

          • Ah here, we were answering a direct question as to what Toner’s strengths were. We discussed Tuohy in the discussion thread.

          • Paddy

             /  January 29, 2014

            I’ve looked through a few of the games and the Stats don’t really support the view that Tuohy is better in all facets of the game than Toner. Toner definitely seems to get on the ball a bit more and seems to have a better carries/gains ratio.

            Tuohy last 5 club games -8:1m vs Tigers & 1 pass, 8:8m vs Montpellier, 9:8m vs Munster & 1 pass, 4:6m vs Leinster & 2 passes, 8:7m vs Treviso & 2 pass,

            Toner – 7:8m Vs Os & 5 pass, 6:12m vs Castres &.3 pass, 7:5m vs Connacht & 3 pass, 4:4m vs Saints & 5 pass, 6:8m vs Saints & 3 pass

            There might be an aberration or 2 in the scrum stats but there’s a clear pattern in those stats. If your looking for someone to cover the loss of SOB as a carrier and link man you turn to Toner. Not that he will cover the loss.

            You can do the lineout takes and steals yourself but there won’t be much in it.

      • Oh they’re massively important for sure, and I’m not saying we should axe either one of them completely. I just feel that there’s never *really* going to be a good time to start looking at “succession plans” without blooding a couple of lads. Even throwing Copeland at some Italians would be fine.

  3. Eoin McDermott

     /  January 29, 2014

    Must have missed Ulster beating Leinster, any good?

  4. Good analysis lads, things are certainly looking fairly solid in the pack. One thing I’d semi-contend is that, even though he gets injured more often, O’Connell might actually be playing better rugby than…almost any point in his career. I can’t actually remember him carrying the ball so effectively, and he’s had some positively gorgeous offloads in the past few games for Munster. I think if he can get his hands free in the tackle a few times this championship, it could have a major impact because he still draws a good bit of attention from defences. He’s still a monster at the ruck and in the lineout (maybe not quite as effective on an opponent’s throw, but some of that’s down to lifting). He’s a big part of what has been a remarkably successful rolling maul for Munster. I’m not saying this is the best ever version of Paul O’Connell…but it’s not far off it. Which is kind of astounding.

    • Yes, O’Connell looks in great nick.. What a player! You mention the rolling maul, and I think it’s a weapon we’ll see Ireland unleash successfully quite a bit.

      • Yeah I definitely agree, I mean we already saw the Wolfhounds use it quite effectively and I’d imagine they were trying to use things Schmidt and Plumtree want to see. It’s such a great weapon because it gets the crowd going, demoralises an opponent, and sucks in defenders to the point that when it gets out to the backs they have favourable matchups. I know I’m building myself up too much but I’m just so enthused by the idea that Joe might actually get these players playing simple, direct, stylish rugby. His enthusiasm is contagious! And thinking back to the All Blacks’ game, it was obviously disappointing, but Murray’s try and Best’s try, they were among the best team tries I’ve ever seen Ireland score. I’m really exhilarated by the idea that we could see more rugby like that. Results are important, but if we start to see rugby like that from these players we should exalt in it, because we’ve been watching some pretty mediocre stuff for quite awhile.

    • If you’re not saying it, I will: O’Connell’s never been better

      • I just don’t want to say it because I’m more informed about rugby now than I was in his earlier years. But I agree, to my eyes the performances he’s been putting in since he came back from breaking his hand, from the AIs til now, are as good as he’s ever been. Which is crazy.

        • Definitely, his performances recently have been incredible. We cannot say enough good things about him. There is no other player around that can bring such a sense of ‘controlled mania’ to a match. I think the only thing that would preclude us saying he’s at his very peak is we know he’s a bit more injury prone these days.

          • That’s the thing, if he can’t stay on the pitch it can’t really be his peak. I’ll say this though: if he keeps to his recent performance levels for this whole championship, I think it will have been his best championship to date.

          • IMO Paul’s leadership, mana, and all that other stuff actually distracts from how good he is. That’s what gets talked about, but I think he’s a better player than a leader (not to suggest that isn’t a strength as well). I always got the impression his work rate dwarfed other locks (while at the same time each intervention carrying as much if not more heft than his peers) and the recently increasing availability of stats (as well as the Mole’s divorce-baiting ruck analytics) would indicate there is truth in that.

            I’m worried I’m about to dip into the Ligind Thesaurus of Thomond Love here – and an Ulster fan, no less – but he’s one of those players you appreciate on a whole other level when you’re in the ground, something which has been said to me before (thinking specifically of an English fella who didn’t rate him necessarily above everyone else, before going to an international and having his mind blown by the “unstoppable omnipresent gingerish giant playing (and flaying) amongst the children” or some words – the other lad’s, not mine – to that effect; prose that would make Dexy’s blush purple. This also applies when his team is under the cosh: the HEC QF in 2012 he was one of the three best players on the park, miles ahead of the rest.

            He’s brilliant, basically. Gush gush gush. Magic in the air. Shoot me now.

  5. cp

     /  January 29, 2014

    Are we being a little premature here lads? Marty hasn’t yet made his int’l debut, and while I do believe he will have what it takes long term, its not a given that he will come in and instantly be an international standard tighthead. Don’t think we’ll struggle against the Scotland pack overall, but Ryan Grant is a decent scrummager who was unlucky not to be in the plane to Hong Kong last June. I’d be worried we’re placing a whole heap of pressure on a 22 year old’s shoulders, when the reality is, even for the most talented TH’s, it can take years to fully develop. Just a concern anyway, good piece overall!

    • It is early days for sure, but he has already held his own against some formidable scrums, not least the Castres front row. To an extent great tightheads are born and not made and Marty Mooradze is almost a prototype of what a modern tighthead should look like, slopey shoulders, barrel chest and all that. He’s young for sure, and inexperienced, but looks to have the goods.

  6. zdm

     /  January 29, 2014

    Was Dan Tuohy a member of the Black & Tans in a previous life?! What does the man have to do to get even a mention these days?

    • You’re the second person to mention it. I think he’s a couple of rungs off the matchday squad, but clearly provides solid cover on the depth chart, a fine player.

      • zdm

         /  January 29, 2014

        A bit slow off the mark with the typing today so Phil managed to conceive, type and post before I got my rheumatic hands going – must be a change in the weather coming.

  7. JT

     /  January 29, 2014

    Who’s Mushy? Court? I lose track of all the nicknames 🙂

  8. JT

     /  January 29, 2014

    You have a load of nicknames so it’s hard to remember all the time! But how I could forget Buckley…. This is the same lad who Gert Smal assuredly reckoned was potentially world class. Him dumping McCaw on his backside was probably the only decent thing he did in a green jersey.

    Couldn’t help but notice the other great white hope Hagan was missing completely from your contender list above… would you completely discount him even though he toured over the summer?

    • Hagan has 238 minutes in 9 substitute appearances in the Premiership for the team in 10th. Discount away!

      • Leinsterlion

         /  January 29, 2014

        A team whose scrum has been an utter shambles, so its not like he’s being kept out by quality.

        • JT

           /  January 29, 2014

          Yeah was aware he wasn’t a regular over there, but didn’t realise his situation was that bad. A shame, as at the end of last season he seemed to be kicking on at Leinster. Still, if he had stayed it’s doubtful whether Moore would have played and progressed as much.

          Every cloud and all that…

          Time to chuck Hagan in the knacker’s yard along with Buckley, or “Mushy.”

    • Bueller

       /  January 29, 2014

      If any Irish player was ever ‘POTENTIALLY world class’ it was Buckley. Have we ever produced another player of his size who could actually move? It didn’t work out but he was definitely worth the punt for a year or two.

      • Leinsterlion

         /  January 29, 2014

        Should have been a blindside, wasted at prop, he could proper 6 in the mould of a Venter, big, hard and physical. Instead we are stuck with an Ijured Ferris, SOB at openside and a lightweight who doesnt carry, doesnt hit, and hangs out in the wide areas.

  9. I have the horrible feeling the headline may be premature. Doubt we’ll see any repetition of the Twickenham disaster, but still awfully thin.

    • Yeah, I hope we don’t tempt fate. We’re not saying that we’re going to be scrummaging all-comers of their own ball, but the point really is that it’s no longer Game Over if Mike Ross were to get injured.

  10. Bueller

     /  January 29, 2014

    Tight-head is still by far and away our weakest position if you ask me. I have never felt comfortable with Mike Ross starting (he is an utter lemon outside the scrum), have never seen anything of note in Decie Fitzpatrick and find the notion that Mart Moore is suddenly a great option laughable—did anyone watch him against the Saxons? He is fine in the scrum but around the park the chap hasn’t got a clue. Please have a look at the 30 seconds prior to Madigans try; the pack have a decent maul going until Moore gets himself in the worst position possible, dumped out of the maul and the entire thing breaks up. He then gets back up and does a swan dive to the side of the subsequent ruck! I don’t want to be too hard on the fella as he is only 22 and clearly still working on his game, with the physical attributes to back this up but he is not an international yet by any means. We don’t have any better options but I definitely do not feel comfortable with our tight-head situation. We have genuinely world-class players at 1,2,5&8 (and 7 when fit) with solid/exciting options at 4&6…..3 definitely stands out to me as a position where any of our options would struggle to even make the extended squad for any other tier 1/2 nation.
    I hope I’m wrong and Moore turns out to be Carl Heyman re-incarnate but the hype around him at the moment is insanely unfounded and only based on the fact that he has usurped our previously poor option in the least convincing provincial pack so far this season?
    Again I don’t think Archer is anything special but I can guarantee he would not have provided that 30 seconds of farce v the Saxons and the pack probably would have rumbled over for the try before Madigan had to! He gets plenty of undeserved flack but his 4-5 seasons of senior rugby have stood to him and he now gets the job done.

    • Paddy

       /  January 29, 2014

      I disagree that Ross is an absolute lemon outside the scrum. He’s not by any means the best but when we’re not skying the ball he’s pretty useful. The demented mole did a ruck marks piece on the lions a while back that showed how useless a prop like Adam Jones is when you’re just skying the ball at every opportunity(2nd test). And if you think about it, it makes sense. Not a dynamic carrier by any means but generally gets across the gainline.

      As regards Moore he seems to have taken the step up well and hasn’t had his head folded into his arse yet by any opponent even if he hasn’t always been on top. He will need to improve but he’s not Michael Bent and I think that’s where the excitement comes from.

    • Len

       /  January 29, 2014

      It’s a bit harsh to judge him on the Saxons game alone. I didn’t see the match but it does sound like a slightly out of character performance for MM. Generally around the park is where he excels. He’s got a good set of hands for a TH and is nearly as fast as the church. It will no doubt take him some time to get fully up to international pase but the sooner they start that process the better. It would also help the speed of our defensive line which has been shackled by Ross’s lack of pase.

      • Bueller

         /  January 29, 2014

        If you cant judge a future international on an A international then I don’t see the point. I have seen the majority of his games for Leinster this season and I really haven’t seen him tearing up trees. He’s young so I hope he does become brilliant and as I said I don’t see any better options (although personally I would have used Archer but he is not any world-beater either) but I don’t think tight-head prop is a position where you should be learning on the job in your first senior season in the 6 Nations, especially if you can’t impress v Saxons…..

        • People tend to read a lot into Wolfhounds matches when it suits them, but it’s a one-off match between two scratch teams with nothing tangible at stake. The Heineken Cup is far closer to test rugby in terms of intensity, pace, and pressure.

          • Bueller

             /  January 29, 2014

            Fair enough but I for one amn’t seeing it in him at Heineken level either. Why bother with A internationals then? If the HC is closer to international level then surely the A game should have been a cake-walk for him and he would have played brilliantly…instead he looked amateurish at times!

          • Good question. They’re a bit of a relic of the past, when an A international was probably a prestigious enough affair and recognition that you were one rung off the big time. In this age of H-Cup etc. they are not that important and I don’t think anyone would weep into their cornflakes if they disappeared. At best it’s a nice chance to give players gametime who might need it, because there’s no other fixture in the calendar.

          • Bueller

             /  January 29, 2014

            Have to say I think that is an massive under-estimation. Ask the lads who won the Churchill Cup in 2009 what impact that had on them as players (they almost for the back-bone of the current team)…..The match the other night was hampered by the weather but it is still a contest of 44 players hungry to fight for their international spots.

  11. Don’t know if saying Cronin can’t throw was intended as a joke based on the past or not but its fairly clear his throwing is much improved on a few seasons ago.

    As for whether Toner steals lineout ball, he doesn’t but it shouldn’t matter, POC will.

    • JT

       /  January 29, 2014

      His throwing was fairly flawless against BNZ when he came on lest we forget. Doesn’t get more pressurised than that. Has had a couple of wobbles in recent Leinster games, but think he is down significantly on the amount of balls lost on his own throw compared to previous seasons.

    • Cian

       /  January 29, 2014

      It’s true, Cronin has seamlessly exchanged an inability to throw for an inability to hook.

      • His throwing has improved, so perhaps that was a bit harsh, but it’s less than stellar. His ability to time runs on to the ball and gallop into open grass on l’autre hand…

  12. Paddy

     /  January 29, 2014

    If the first choice back row is POM, Henry, Heaslip and the bench is one of TOD/Ruddock(IMO) anyone else think he might rotate one of the 3 and bring both Ruddock and TOD into the 23. Copeland or Murphy(who I don’t see as having done enough)being a possible left field addition or MWJMB but I’m only thinking of him as a lock. We’re liable to loose at least 1 of the 3 over the course of the 5 games and he’s kept a good few back row options in the squad. Maybe the Italian game is the place to experiment, but I don’t see a lot to be scared of in that Scottish back row

    Well and all as he’s been playing I don’t think playing POC for the full 80 is the best thing to do a week out from the game against Wales. So his replacement will have to cover that side of the scrum.

    • Maybe we need to pay Scotland a bit more respect? I know they’re no great shakes but they beat us last year.

      I would only envisage POC coming off early if the game is wrapped up before the final whistle. Might not be easy given the conditions the game is likely to be played in.

      • Joe

         /  January 29, 2014

        It’s almost a pity Scotland is first up. In truth, only the Scots and the Italians offer partial scope for experimentation. And you don’t want to take any chances in Game 1, as such Italy is the only game you might see a Murphy/Ruddock/Marmion/Henshaw/etc get a run in the 6N

        • Last year it was a case of last man standing. We’re bound to pick up injuries along the way, so I’m sure we’ll get to see at least one of the lads you mention.

      • Paddy

         /  January 29, 2014

        Maybe not POC, but I think the entire front row will start from NZ will start and play for 50+ mins with at least 1 new cap and >4 cap player coming in as replacements. If you want to build the depth in the pack this is the chance. I’d be up for dropping POM/Henry from the 23 and bringing in both TOD and Ruddock to start with POM/Henry to bench.

        Elsewhere I think the only unforced change will be Marshall to 12. With Fitz plus AN other to wing.

  13. Paddy o

     /  January 29, 2014

    This one is primarily about set piece. It looked like a big chunk of work was done on breakdown skills/technique and making sure 1 to 23 were on the same page for that, prior to the Bnz game….and it looked like a box well on the way to being ticked. After last year where the lineout became a disaster area in this fixture – remember Jim Hamilton being an absolute nuisance? – I’d be amazed if toner doesn’t start this one (he should have been brought on after 20mins last year) and also that Plumtree hasn’t been given a good bit of time to get things running smoothly. I thought some of the technique for presentation of lineout ball and maul formation was excellent vs Samoa, but they got careless with a few big lineouts against the wallabies and in the finish up didn’t even give themselves a chance in that game as a result. The New Zealand game is a bit of a blur to me in terms of set piece and how it went.

    It seems Moore is widely tipped to start. That would be a good thing and could go a long way to relaxing the tight head crisis as you guys say, but as a 22 year old novice he will need to get a massive amount of help from those around him. You’d presume it has been a big week for Plumtree on both fronts. Getting another TH prop up to or above Ross’ level would be a massive feather in the cap for everyone. On a side note and speaking of tight heads and caps I see archer has started to wear a scrum cap and I think it helps his image/good face concept. He looks more nuggety. Kind of the opposite of Heaslip’s baggy trousers (baggy trousers, baggy trousers), which is a guaranteed sign of weakness. It also helps archer’s good face of course that he is a big part of a scrum which doesn’t seem to be pushed around any more, but it’s mostly the scrum cap for me!

    The other big work on from last year has to be ruthlessness. Jackson and Marshall cut them to ribbons, but all to no reward. I heard kiss on the radio praising the Scottish scramble defence this week. That’s fair enough but really if those chances are created they gotta mean points, maybe not off first phase, but still got to be points before the ball leaves the 22 again. I guess that’s more for tomorrow’s post though with the backs, so I’ll shut up at that. Looking forward to it and enjoying the posts lads – thanks.

  14. Riocard Ó Tiarnaigh

     /  January 29, 2014

    Risteard Ó hOstais – lol!! Ar aon nós, is húcálaí é, is féidir leis húcáil!!!

  15. connachtexile

     /  January 30, 2014

    Just a question but why no mention of Ricky Luttun? Surely he must be ahead of Macklin at Ulster. How do others rate him? From what I’ve seen he’s no further behind then Archer, Ah You or Moore.

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