Not BOD

It would be remiss of us not to sign off on this year’s Six Nations by talking about the successor to you-know-who. Brian O’Driscoll will never wear the Ireland shirt again, and he’s only the best player of the professional era – whoever takes over will be held to the standard set by some-bloke-called-Brian and it will not be easy for them. Indeed, amid the clamour for the shirt, it has to be remembered what a thankless task this will be.  The successful candidate must not only have the rugby skills to take over, he must have the mental strength to deal with not being BOD. Ask Andrew Trimble what it’s like not-being-BOD – while he lit up Le Stade in Ireland’s second winning effort there in 40 years, he lost out on the BOD-of-the-match award. It was a brilliant touch by the French to let BOD have the final word on his own career, but it illustrates the force of personality that Ireland are losing – one of the greats who transcended nations. Although, let’s face it, he has still been dropped by the Lions once more than the Awesome Power of Luther Burrell.

With the World Cup now 18 months away, the learning curve is steep – in the group stages alone, not-BOD will face Michele Campagnaro, one of the better young players on view this 6N and either Gael Fickou, an amazingly talented youngster, or Mathieu Bastareaud, an disgracefully out-of-shape waster who just happens to be extremely strong and explosive, and who seemingly always produces against Ireland. If not-BOD doesn’t win both those games, his next assignment will be marking Smuddy, and if he ins one of them, it’s Marcelo Bosch. Easy.

Any error or signs of not-being-BOD will be picked up upon by fans and meeja alike, with each likely to use the opportunity to row in behind the under-pressure player and support them through their difficult patch. Or maybe they’ll just call for their own provincial team-mate / personal favourite to be handed the 13 jersey. Hard to know really, although those thinking the latter is more likelyare just as cynical as us, and slightly more realistic.

No pressure then. So who is up for being not-BOD?

Robbie Henshaw (Connacht): It feels part of the narrative to call Henshaw “heir apparent” and even say he was “anointed by BOD” but we aren’t so sure about this. BOD’s words have been twisted and Henshaw is very raw at international, or any, level. He is undoubtedly talented, but is still only 20, without a huge body of work at outside centre in professional rugby behind him. That said, he is one of two outside centres actually in the current squad, and is likely to get significant game time in Argentina.  He’s a big, strong running lad and the closest thing we have to a JJV Davies/Burrell type centre.

Darren Cave (Ulster): The other 13 in the current squad. Angry, and who would blame him. I mean, everyone who interviews him asks him about his mate from home, Wotsisname from the Golf innit wiv the hot tennis bird in tow. When is Dazza going to get his time in the sun?! Now maybe – he has been one of the backbones of Ulster’s rise from Magners also-rans to European powerhouse – defensively solid, has added vision and great pass timing to his repertoire this year. Also likely to see some rugger this summer, he is now being thought of as a potential “stop-gap” while Henshaw matures, but he is only 26 and likely to keep improving.

Jared Payne (Ulster): Payne isn’t Irish yet, but he will be in July. Or August. Don’t know, but in time for the Georgia game, that’s for sure. He played lots of rugger at 13 for Auckland back in the Land of the Long Black Chokers but has spent nearly all his time at Ulster at full-back. He undoubtedly has brilliant sense of space and footwork, but his defence can occasionally be of the iHumph variety. And with Joe Schmidt’s obsession with detail, it’s tough to know if he’ll cut the mustard as a 13 candidate if he isn’t playing there week-in, week-out.  Much appears to depend on the shape and fitness of the Ulster back-three.  Word on the ground was that Anscombe’s plan was to play Payne at 13 this year, with Gilroy moving to full-back, but Bowe’s injury put paid to that notion, while Cave continues to be reliable in the 13 shirt.  We’ll see how they line out in the quarter-final against Saracens.

Keith Earls (Munster): Stop! He is good! In fact, he has more experience at outside centre at international level than the rest of the Irish squad put together, so there. And he did ok too, better than ok – we didn’t miss BOD in 2012 as much as we thought we would. Earls has two major problems though – he isn’t playing at centre for Munster, and his decision-making under pressure can be questionable. Re the former, he has a chance to rectify that now Casey Laulala is eschewing passion and pride for money – if he so desires, the Munster 13 shirt is his next season. Re the latter, extended time in camp with Joe Schmidt is maybe just what the doctor ordered – he might even learn how to pass.

Luke Roysh (Leinster): I knew it! Bias! A pro-Leinster conspiracy! Luke Fitzgerald is the most talented back produced by Ireland since BOD, but his international career has been in stall mode for five years. And he is stil only 26! Fitzgerald has the game for outside centre, no question, but he also has two major flaws – he isn’t playing at centre for Leinster, and he is injury-prone. Similar to Ireland, Leinster have a pressing need for a 13 as their one is moving from rugby into the sainthood business – perhaps this is the opportunity Fitzgerald needs to get his career back in the groove. He has experience with Schmidt, and plus he is from Leinster, so he’ll probably get picked anyway. *foam* *froth*

Fergus McFadden (Leinster): Another Leinster player! This is getting ridiculous, I mean there are two now in this list alone – what about the Ulster/Munster/Connacht quota for the national side! Ferg has actually worn the Irish 13 jersey before, against Wales in 2012, although it got ignominiously dumped on its back by JJV Davies en route to Wales upsetting the applecart, and he started his career there. But he has spent the last two years being exclusively a wing. He filled in at centre during the Six Nations just gone, and has the advantage of being in the inner sanctum. Still, a role as a versatile bench option feels more likely.

Stuart Olding (Ulster): Bear with us here. Sure, he’s been at 10 or 12 most of his short career. Sure, he’s injured. But he is a sumptuous and natural footballer with great vision, excellent passing skills, good defence and a sharp rugby brain. We have a funny feeling he will end up as a 13 (partly due to the existence of Wee PJ and Bamm-Bamm, partly because he is good enough to do so). Just saying. Maybe not now though.

Simon Zebo (Munster): A cursory glance at the interwebs will tell you that Zebo has the passing of Matt Giteau, the speed of Carlin Isles, the power of Manu Tuilagi, the defence of Jonny Wilkinson and the rugby brain of Dan Carter – it seems madness that Joe Schmidt won’t pick him, so maybe he is saving him for #thirteen. Note to Munster fans – THIS IS A JOKE! We think he  is great.

So there you have it, plenty of imperfect candidates to be not-BOD. We reckon Cave and Henshaw will each get an audition in Argentina, and Earls and Fitzgerald will be live contenders if they line out there for their provinces next season. Whoever does get the nod, it’s utterly essential that we give them all the support possible – they’ll need it for the one thing we do know is – they won’t be BOD.

Advertisements
Previous Post

78 Comments

  1. I hear it’s in vogue to move forwards into the backline these days… why don’t we just put Henderson in at 13?

    On a more serious note, it’s going to be some baptism of fire no matter who ends up lining up at 13 over the next few years, especially if someone without a good face in the meedja puts in a “merely alright” performance. Cave will probably suffer most in this regard, especially after his comments (out of context or otherwise, I’d imagine Gerry has the quotes saved on his desktop in preparation). Which is a pity since he’s the only one out of the above who’s currently playing regularly at 13.

    Assuming Marshall is the annointed “not-Beard” going forward, Cave would be my pick for next season as they can combine pretty nicely. If Luke could stay fit for more than a couple of months at a time though, that’d be great.

    • Xyz

       /  March 24, 2014

      Cronin. Apparently he runs lines like a centre. I seem to recall having heard that once.

      • Ah god yeah, I’d forgotten about him! Cronin’s basically a prime example of the centre the Basteraud could be. If Tom Youngs can move from centre to hooker, I’m sure we can shift Cronin the other way!

  2. Patrick O'Riordan

     /  March 24, 2014

    Ferg McF was asked about playing at centre in the Off the Ball podcast this week and it seems both Ferg and Joe view wing as Ferg’s best position, although he is one of a longish list for there. Maybe a bench option for 13 rather than a starter?

  3. Patrick O'Riordan

     /  March 24, 2014

    It was mentioned in a previous posting, but personally I’d prefer to see Payne as a fullback and providing an alternative to Rob Kearney in that position. Payne’s best performances at Ulster have been attacking ball in hand when he has some space, such as joining the line and attacking from deep, and he is an excellent tactical kicker from the back as well. I remain to be convinced how well he would do at 13.

  4. Sound Steve

     /  March 24, 2014

    If you could make a composite player of Lukie Fitz’s D, Cave’s footballing ability, Henshaw’s physique and Earls’ feet and acceleration, it would take some beating…

    • toro toro

       /  March 24, 2014

      Blimey. A month ago it was well-endowed back-rows, now it’s Luke Fitzgerald’s D? I think someone needs a cold shower…

    • That’s the conundrum right there, isn’t it? They all have good aspects to their game but none is the complete package.

      • Joe

         /  March 24, 2014

        And now we’re talking about their packages too. Pure filth.

      • toro toro

         /  March 24, 2014

        More seriously, isn’t the player being described here essentially a slightly bigger Fitzgerald?

        • ehhweasel

           /  March 24, 2014

          Agree. If you’re looking for a combination of solid defence, footballing ability, good feet/acceleration and physique, Luke is surely the best candidate. That said, I think Leinster would be better served with him at 11 and Fungus McFadden at 13. Darren Cave is continually touted as the only “natural” 13 but Fungus was only pushed outside because he couldn’t get a look in.

        • You’re overrating Fitz’s passing and offloading relative to Cave. You may also be overrating his acceleration relative to Earls, but he has looked very quick since coming back from injury.

  5. Hansie Macdermot

     /  March 24, 2014

    Whoever it is I hope that rugby fans will not turn the BOD shirt into a type of “Turin Shroud”like wendyball followers do in their sport. When an ordinary successor takes over from a great one the response is ” He is not Pele, Maradonna, Bobby Moore or
    Eamonn Dunphy” from the fans of the respective countries. The last one is a joke in every sense.

    I am not a fan of turning wingers into outside centres so I would forget Luke and Keith.

    Start with Cave and persist with young Henshaw, he has time on his side..

    • Patrick O'Riordan

       /  March 24, 2014

      Yeah, Cave is a smart player (and a clever cheater as well) so I think he’ll do well with more exposure to Joe’s system.

    • connachtexile

       /  March 24, 2014

      ‘Start with Cave and persist with young Henshaw, he has time on his side.’ – Agreed. Robbie is still playing most of his rugby at 15 for Connacht but that will probably change next year with Eoin Griffin moving to London Irish (who WoC didn’t mention). I’m still not convinced that 13 is Henshaw’s best position rather I see him as a fullback who can play 13 just like I see Earl’s as a winger who can play 13, not their optimum position but will do in a pinch. I think Cave should get the nod for the moment as he play’s week in week out with Marshall (when he’s not concussed) and having a partnership like that has worked well for us before with Darce & BOD so I don’t see why it shouldn’t with Cave and Marshall. This game is about combinations so having two guys simpatico with each other makes sense.

      • Barry

         /  March 26, 2014

        It shows how young Henshaw is that I have to refer to his School Rugby days but prior to his Pro contrcat, Robbie was a centre/ outhalf so more than capable of playing 13

  6. Hairy Naomh Mhuire

     /  March 24, 2014

    As you have correctly pointed out, much will depend on the selection choices in the provinces – particularly Ulster. Interesting therefore to read Axel stating that if Earls wants to play at 13 he will be accommodated “because we’d like to get more Munster players wearing the Irish jersey.” Interesting perspective coming from the (soon to be) only Irish provincial coach. Not sure if Anscombe or O’Connor will give as much weight to that argument.

    • Patrick O'Riordan

       /  March 24, 2014

      Who are Munster’s other options at 13, however? Earls looks like the best of the bunch for next season so I don’t think Axel is being as selfless for Ireland’s cause as the statement implies.

      Certainly in Ulster, Anscombe will have his own requirements that aren’t necessarily opposed to Ireland’s needs. Ulster do need a decent alternative for Cave at 13, and Payne may be the answer, and they need a decent alternative for Payne at FB, and Gilroy may be the answer.

    • ehhweasel

       /  March 24, 2014

      Earls did come out in one of the broadsheets and say he wanted 13 to be his position a season or two ago. Munster are pretty thin in the centre with Downey and Dineen the only real options next season. I think it’s likely that Earls will slot in there. Even more so now that Griffin is definitely off to London Irish/ Reading Samoa

  7. It’s a proper conundrum this one. Personally speaking I’d give it straight to Henshaw and tell him he’s the incumbent unless form or injury seriously deserts him. It’s ridiculously unfair to compare any other possible 13 with BOD of last 3-4 yrs, instead we should compare them to BOD 12-14 yrs ago. The obvious problem with that is that Ireland have moved on from occasional challengers when the Pashun was turned up to 11, to consistent winners and therefore can’t afford to give a guy time to acclimatise and find consistency.

    I have no doubt that if Henshaw is given the time he will develop, but we need to be mindful that he is a young fella learning the ropes and he will make mistakes, hell (whisper it) even BOD made the occasional clanger and struggled with consistency at times.

    With my Leinster bias on I think Luke has the best skillset, and physical attributes (decent size, strong, very quick, steps off both feet) needed for the right now, but the poor guy can’t go two months without breaking down and I’d be seriously worried about his long term prospects given what he said in his last interview about his back never going to be right & going to need constant management. A bad/niggly back often leads to associated injuries (hamstring, groin, calf, etc) so the likelihood is he will continue to be amazing when he plays but on the sidelines too often.

    So I’d give Henshaw a run through the world cup and beyond and hope the obvious promise he’s showing now converts. If not then at least we’ve given him sufficient time to prove one way or the other.

    The great thing is that in Schmidt we know we have a guy who will put absolute faith in the player he thinks is right, and will do everything to improve all aspects of their game.

    • Barry

       /  March 26, 2014

      Fitzgerald will quit the game by 28/29 – Sorry to say it but the game is so attritional now and his body balance will be out after all the injuries so struggle to see him making a ‘comeback’ – and sorry if thats sounds very harsh

  8. Stuart Olding will make the Irish team eventually but not at 13. Best I’ve ever seen him play was at either 12 or 15. Hope he has an injury free season next as this looked like it would be his and Tommie O’Donnell’s break out year. Sad they both got hit with injury so early on but least Tommie got some 6N time in.

    • ehhweasel

       /  March 24, 2014

      Olding’s the classiest back we have imho whichever position you put him in. Can’t wait to see him in green.

  9. niall

     /  March 24, 2014

    Sean Cronin anybody?

    • Love it. Absolutely, he has the best outside break in the country!

      • Not the greatest passer of the ball at high speed though is Nugget, as we saw in the Leinster match against Northampton away and in the Six Nations in Lansdowne Road (against Wales was it?). Personally I’d love to see an Olding/Henshaw partnership take the place of Darce/BO’D.

        • p.s. Earls is a fabulous winger. He should stick to that, as his performances in the centre up until now have been underwhelming to say the least. I can’t see Luke taking over the 13 jersey with Leinster as he’s too injury prone. He too should stick to the wing and let Ferg replace the departing golden one.

  10. SD

     /  March 24, 2014

    Hmmm, it’s not impossible to imagine an (almost) all Ulster back line:

    Payne, Bowe, Cave, Marshall (L), Trimble, Jackson – I can’t see Marshall (P) getting in, though.

    At least the above guys might be playing together week-in-week-out. A bit like the current Leinster / Ireland line up.

    I’ve absolutely no provincial bias, I’m just grateful that there’s strength in depth in most positions.

    • Stephen

       /  March 24, 2014

      The good thing, SD, is that if that were the best backline Ireland could field, Schmidt would not hesitate to field it.

  11. Stephen

     /  March 24, 2014

    The future of the long-term 13 shirt holder depends on IRFU interests, provincial interests, and how these two complement or oppose one another.

    ULSTER: Cave has proved himself as utterly competent at every level open to him in an Ulster shirt – which, in the absence of serious exposure to national caps, is all he can do. He is also a specialist 13 (though he has played 12 this season); moving Payne from 15 (his best position) to 13, in order to move Gilroy to 15, in order to presumably have Cave benched (he’s not going to be replacing Marshall at 12), seems a bad idea. WoC have better sources than me, but I’d point out that Bowe’s injury notwithstanding, Payne has not played 13 in any Heineken Cup game or Inter-Pro game this year: his runs in that position have been against, frankly, B-standard opposition.

    Olding is a fantastic player, and is young enough (recovered) to be put in one midfield position, dependent on Ulster and Ireland’s needs, and become very, very good at it. With 10/12 essentially sorted at the Ulster and Irish level, that puts him at 13 if he is to get regular first-team time.

    The best plan for Ulster, then, is to keep Cave and Payne at 13 and 15 until the end of the season. Cave gets summer exposure against Argentina and probably in the Autumn too, whilst long-term, Olding gets groomed into the 13 position. This has the added benefit of giving Rob Kearney some serious competition for the full-back slot.

    LEINSTER: Fitzgerald and McFadden are both wingers by nature, but one of them will presumably be the Leinster 13 by next season. I essentially agree with the WoC analysis here: Fitzgerald if fit could be the answer, but he is too injury-prone.

    MUNSTER: If Keet stays fit, the Munster 13 shirt is his if he and Foley want it. This makes him a strong contender for the Irish 13, at least for a few seasons.

    CONNACHT: I’d put Henshaw in the same category as Olding: young and showing unbelievable promise, but nothing more than that. Long-term, he may need a transfer to one of the other three provinces to ensure the gap between club and Test rugby isn’t too great.

    In Cave and Earls, there are two players who can play 13, now, for at least a season or two. Beyond that, I would hope that either Henshaw or Olding will be the starting Ireland outside-centre in 5 years time.

    • Didn’t Cave and Henshaw start together at 12-13 for the Wolfhounds? Defensively that would be far ahead of a Marshall/Payne partnership.

    • Love the way everyone thinks Henshaw can’t make a test player at Connaught when Joe Launchbury and Toby Faletau are clear proof that constantly being in the Heineken Cup isn’t always what it takes to make a world class test player. What matters most is quality of the player himself and the passion he brings with the jersey. And wouldn’t it be nice if for once we got to keep our good players and make a decent team that can compete with the other three provinces?

      • think thats the first mention of Heineken Cup rugby as a requirement to be picked.

  12. misc

     /  March 24, 2014

    Just a thought, but while we’re throwing out names, would Ian Whitten be worth a look in the summer? I’ve seen him a few times for Exeter lately and he has impressed. Plus he is actually playing 13 regularly.

  13. curates_egg

     /  March 24, 2014

    I really like Cave for Ulster and he is the only player on the list who is actually a 13 right now…but he has played for Ireland something like 10 times and never really looked the part and you would have to assume that is why the net is being spread so much wider. You would have to imagine that, if he can learn the position quickly, it is Henshaw’s. That said, look at Trimble’s international rehabilitation this year, after constantly underachieving at international level but delivering for Ulster. Maybe Schmidt could work the same wonders on Cave.

    Which brings me to the next point: Henshaw to Leinster! He certainly has the potential to be as good or better than any of my list: http://harpin2.blogspot.be/2014/01/succession-planning-at-centre-of.html

    • He’s signed with us to 2016. Bake yer own.

    • jacothelad

       /  March 24, 2014

      Cave has played 5 games for Ireland. 2 friendlies in 2009 in North America and 2 more friendlies in 2013 in North America. Sandwiched in between was 7 minutes against N.Z. Not exactly sure how you can say he’s never looked the part a) given that some of the games weren’t televised and b) that one was 7 minutes at the end of a raping. He may not be what we need but let’s not bin him because he ‘hasn’t really looked the part’ when in fact we haven’t been able to see him.

      • I think Schmidt views Cave as a potential 12 more than a 13. He played him there for the wolfhounds. I think inside centre suits Caves skill set as an excellent distributer, reasonable kicker with excellent vision. I think Cave’s weakness is his top end pace. The pace thing isn’t as big an issue at 12.

      • seiko

         /  March 24, 2014

        Didn’t Cave start for Ireland against the Barbarians (in Wales I think) just before the tour to New Zealand? Earls may have been at fullback.

      • toro toro

         /  March 24, 2014

        Second use of “raping” on here in the last week. Seriously, can we get a new fucking verb?

        • zdm

           /  March 24, 2014

          I second that toro toro – not cool boys and girls, not cool.

        • Hairy Naomh Mhuire

           /  March 25, 2014

          Thirded.

        • Leinsterlion

           /  March 25, 2014

          As you point out, its only a “fucking verb”(literally in this case), stop whining. “Heavens, someone has used the R word, call the vocabulary police and have them tarred feathered and locked up this instant!”. Its an apt descriptor for certain scenario’s , is the English language going to be bastardised in the name of political correctness? “Oh no, you cant compare lightening counter attacks to Blitzkrieg, some Poles might shit themselves”….

          • toro toro

             /  March 25, 2014

            It’s not an apt descriptor for anything other than a rape. I am 100% certain that nobody has ever picked themselves up from a brutal rape and said “you know what that was like? comprehensively losing a sporting event which I took part in voluntarily.”

            It is a crass and stupid analogy, which shows only that you do not understand either of the things you are talking about. And nobody has suggested anything analogous to a “vocabulary police”; we just ask that you would have the common fucking decency to choose your words more carefully, just as “political correctness” – or what most people call “not being an arsehole” – should persuade you not to use racist or homophobic terms, at least when your intention is not to make racist or homophobic points.

          • Leinsterlion

             /  March 25, 2014

            The fact it is in constant use, has a dictionary definition, for things other then physical rape, eg “an act of plunder” etc etc means you are wrong. Its only uber sensitive immature people who have been given a voice on the internet that have made this an issue and now require an apology from anyone who happens to use it in a public setting. Before the age of mass whining about hurt feeling and other shit, no one cared.

            Clearly you being irked and efforts to stop people using rape as a descriptor points to there being a vocabulary police, the PC police on twitter , this interjection into a rugby discussion, are also evidence of that.
            Political correctness or impinging on freedom of speech by using emotive and illogical arguments, is not, “not being an arsehole”, its an insidious way to enforce conformity and stifle debate. Words are there to be used, dont like certain words? Don’t use them, problem solved, just dont go banging on about other peoples freedom to use them, however “crass or stupid” they may be.

          • Agree with other posters. Next use is a yellow card (comment deleted), subsequent use a red card (future comments banned).

            No real need for it – use another word. If you have a dictionary at hand, you have a thesaurus not far away.

          • Leinsterlion

             /  March 26, 2014

            I presume murdered(in ref to the opposition), cutting in half(tackling), warzone, killed(ball whatever), starved, famine(in reference to wins, possession) etc etc are are also on the banned list?

          • We are reserving the right to be completely inconsistent and dictatorial. The r-bomb is out. If any other questionable words come up, we will let you know

        • Paddy o

           /  March 25, 2014

          Obviously this is not comparable in vulgarity, but while we are at it, is there any chance people could also stop using the word assuredly? Mocking is catching and I whince slightly every time I read the word. 🙂

      • curates_egg

         /  March 25, 2014

        D’internet says he has 5 starts and 5 subs. He also started in the non-test against Fiji last year, when he was outplayed by all around him. I am a fan of his play at Ulster and willing to be convinced otherwise.

    • Yossarian

       /  March 24, 2014

      Some interesting assessments of the options at centre there on the leinster blog. I agree replacing Darcy is as big a job as bod but we have a year to worry about that. Reid has impressed over the last few games, different build to Macken would explain the different rate of progress. A nice 10 at B&I cup level so could become an option over next 12 months. Macken can beat a man one v one but a poor defender in gneral which is a pity given his size. The two Toms daly and Farrell impressed last year at 20’s and both big units. Robb from this years 20’s has size but have to wait on his skill as did the clongowes 10(who is big enough for 12) but all of those are a few years off and may never develop to the required level.

      • curates_egg

         /  March 25, 2014

        Reid is really starting to look good. Showing the benefits of being ‘trusted’ for a run of games. Would still have concerns about his defence. We have been extremely porous in midfield this season (but not exclusively when he is playing).

        • Leinster probably need him as a squad player, but Reid looks to me like he would benefit massively from a move out West, and he would fit the bill there in a big way. If he can sort out his defence he has the potential to be a very good player indeed.

        • Yossarian

           /  March 25, 2014

          Never felt confident when we went with the Reid/Macken combo in midfield but that was Macken more than Reid i felt. Having a good season and think he is Leinsters top try scorer now!Joe’s Leinster bias will see him on a plane to Argentina!

  14. zdm

     /  March 24, 2014

    Lest we forget, Ireland need to replace two legendary centres – if BOD is the best centre of the past decade, D’Arcy must surely be in the running for the best-not-BOD-centre of the last decade.

    It looks like Bambam is the heir apparent there and if that’s the case then it is surely worth looking at what Ireland need to balance the skill set in the centres (and across the backline as a whole). Marshalls rugby talents aren’t exactly of the subtly nuanced variety so I’ll skip to the point – this panto horse is missing a front end so if you accept Marshall as your 12, you gotta have a decision maker and a passer outside him and for that reason I’d prefer Cave over Henshaw. We can also probably accept that our first choice back three aren’t the brains trust of the team so that’s another plus point for a decision maker at 13.

    However, modern rugby is a complex team sport so why the heck can’t we develop more than one set of options at centre? Why can’t Olding and Henshaw be paired together? As WoC points out, Henshaw looks fond of an extra helping of meat at dinner and Olding seems like a good option as a 2nd 5/8.

    • Stephen

       /  March 24, 2014

      To be fair, Olding is using his injury to turn into a bit of a horse as well:

      http://uafc.co.uk/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=13382&p=432025&hilit=olding#p432025

    • I struggle to see how anyone could watch Marshall play and come to the conclusion that he’s not a decision maker or passer. He played out-half underage and has an extremely wide array of footballing talents. The only issue is his glass head.

      As for the notion that D’Arcy is “in the running for the best-not-BOD-centre of the last decade”, I genuinely have to laugh at the lack of global perspective that some Irish rugby fans have. Outside of one phenomenal year (2004), D’Arcy has definitively not been at or near the standard of, offhand, Conrad Smith, Ma’a Nonu, Tana Umaga, Sonny Bill Williams, Stirling Mortlock, Matt Giteau, Jean De Villiers, Jaque Fourie, Jamie Roberts, Yannick Jauzion, or, nowadays, Wesley Fofana. You could argue the toss for the likes of Tom Shanklin, Aurelien Rougerie, and Manu Tuilagi. There are others too who would have been better but for circumstance; Richard Kahui was definitely a better player when fit, for instance, so good he demanded inclusion in the AB team even on the wing. I’m sure I could turn up a few more with the Google, but suffice to say Gordon D’Arcy, excellent player that he is and extraordinary servant that he has been, is not in the running, or indeed at the races for the accolade you mention.

      • zdm

         /  March 24, 2014

        Well I currently live in Aus so my perspective of rugby outside Ireland is based on the fact that I probably watch more Super rugby than Heineken rugby at the minute.

        You’re falling in to the classical northern hemisphere trap of assuming that a back that scores a ton in the Super 15 would score a ton in the HC. Super rugby is so entertaining because the defences are so porous compared to NH top end club rugby that the tries rack up quickly.

        Don’t get me wrong, some of the centre you mention are imperious and genuine world beaters but Kahui is not better than a mid-to-late noughties D’arcy. I’d also strongly argue the toss against Tom shanklin and Manu tuilangi being better than D’arcy.

        • I’d be relying more on their international pedigrees than their Super Rugby form, I don’t see a huge amount of that due to my weekend slovenliness. Kahui was brilliant when he played at international level, and I would have killed to have him come north. He’s been desperately unfortunate with injuries, so I guess it wouldn’t be unfair to put him into the “argue the toss” category as well. I don’t mean to be dismissive of D’Arcy’s talents, and at his peak (let’s say 2004-2006) he was an outstanding at international level, but he lost a lot of his attacking gifts over the last four years in particular, and became a “solid option” at 12, where previously he had been an exhilarataing attacking talent. Nothing wrong with that, but he didn’t compare to the very best.

          Re: Marshall’s footballing abilities, prepare to be pleasantly surprised when you get the chance to see more of him. He needs to add more offloading out of contact to his game, but his passing and kicking range are already quite impressive, probably due to his schools background. I think people may have formed a slightly jaundiced view of his passing in particular after he butchered that pass to Gilroy in last year’s 6 Nations match against Scotland. That’s the kind of error people remember.

    • Barry

       /  March 26, 2014

      Concussion

  15. Exile

     /  March 24, 2014

    A thought from left field.. Keep an eye on Danny Barnes at Newcastle Falcons. Fell out of favour at Penney’s Munster and, despite a difficult, injury stunted, start to this season, he’s been showing good form for the Falcons. In fact, he was excellent at the weekend and played a large part in the Falcons’ five tries and their 2nd half resurgence.

    Playing in England won’t help him, I suppose, but perhaps a return to Munster if they are struggling for cover at 13?

  16. SportingBench

     /  March 24, 2014

    I understand the media will be all over the “replacement” but I expect that under Joe Schmidt no one will be given the shirt and told it’s theirs rather Schmidt will look at the option for each game, the opposition and who is in form. While BOD was god he played in a certain way and was not always an “orthodox” 13. Therefore I would reckon that, rather than trying to replace BOD who did mainly BOD stuff, Schmidt will be looking for someone each game, selected from a pool of options, to execute whatever have needs done, a completely different challenge than what was asked of BOD. This means that we shouldn’t be looking for who will replace BOD but instead who will balance the backline and that is likely to depend on who is picked elsewhere in the back line.

    • Hairy Naomh Mhuire

       /  March 24, 2014

      Very good post. Big focus on ‘picking’ our 13 to take us to next RWC. Have we picked 11 & 14 yet?

      • We have loads of blooded options in those positions, though, so there’s no need to focus on developing a player in either position. We have one player blooded at 13 at international level to any meaningful extent, and most of the country thinks he can only play wing.

  17. Jlo

     /  March 24, 2014

    The way centres are built nowadays I’d put Stevie Ferris there

  18. John Storey

     /  March 24, 2014

    Anyone but Mc Fadden,has never impressed me ,and has to learn not to be so selfish with the ball.doesnt believe in passing at any time .woukd share your worries re Paynes defence!

  19. mullser

     /  March 24, 2014

    Can somebody pull luke marshall aside and introduce him to the concept of a scrum cap.

    • SD

       /  March 24, 2014

      Sure that would only encourage him to lead with the bonce!

    • toro toro

       /  March 24, 2014

      Scrum caps have no effect in reducing or preventing concussion. Here’s an abstract and summary of the relevant study: http://www.unboundmedicine.com/evidence/ub/citation/15561749/Evaluation_of_protective_equipment_for_prevention_of_injuries_in_rugby_union_

      In fact, if it gives the player a false sense of security, the scrum cap could well end up making him more prone…

      • toro toro

         /  March 24, 2014

        Sorry, that should have said “abstract and citation details”.

        Plus, I see SD git in there ahead of me:)

        • toro toro

           /  March 24, 2014

          *got. Jesus.

          • kevin

             /  March 25, 2014

            What bout Tommy Bowe lads? Fitzgerald would be my preference but he’s too injury prone to be planning on. Second would be Bowe.. He’s a horse and can offload, pass and do everything really. We’ve enough good wingers and shag all centres so he should be shoehorned in. He hasn’t played there for years but he was grand for the Ospreys (and the lions!) When playing there is. And Jesus Christ unless Earls has a blinding season at 13 next year can we abandon all talk of him being BODs successor. He,s a defensive liability (timing and decision making rather than actual tackling), has no brain, doesn’t pass and can’t pass it properly anyway. He’s a proven quality winger and a proven crap centre

  20. Hairy Naomh Mhuire

     /  March 25, 2014

    Message to WoC – might be time to take action re a recent post above. Crosses the line. No place for it here.

    • toro toro

       /  March 25, 2014

      Agreed, and more fool me for trying to argue the point as though there was a sensible interlocutor.

%d bloggers like this: