Time to Get a Move On

For all the jolliness around Irish rugby right now, for a handful of players this season has been one frustration after another. And things could be about to get more frustrating for some of them when the teams are announced for the Heineken Cup knockouts this weekend.

Despite knocking Paddy Jackson off the bench for the final round of the Six Nations, this has not been a campaign to remember for Ian Madigan. After two years of huge gains, the departure of Jonny Sexton looked set to hand him the breakthrough he needed, but instead Madigan has found himself struggling to oust the less heralded Jimmy Gopperth. Gopperth is a fine player and has numerous strengths, but if Madigan was playing like he did last season he’d be starting all the big matches. He just hasn’t got going yet. Every time we see him inked into the starting team for a home game we get the feeling his season is about to spark, but so far it hasn’t really happened. He played well enough against Munster, but his kicking game remains loose and his superb gainline passing hasn’t been in as much evidence this year, with O’Connor appearing to play him deeper behind the gainline. For the Toulon game, Jimmy Gopperth is probably slight favourite to get picked.

Another who has only played in fits and starts this season is Kevin McLaughlin. Injury hasn’t helped, but his form since returning has been spotty to say the least. He was a weak-ish link against Munster, and the memory of his explosive 20 minutes against New Zealand has receded somewhat. He wasn’t involved in even the training squads for the Six Nations, and now has to contend with a new sheriff in town at Leinster in Rhys Ruddock. Ruddock is a 6 in the Simon Easterby mould, a good lineout catcher who gets on with the ‘unseen work’ of carrying slow ball and clearing out rucks, and if fit is likely to be selected ahead of McLaughlin. With Jordi Murphy and Shane Jennings vying for the No.7 shirt, McLaughlin could find himself outside the 23 altogether.

Meanwhile, up in Ulster, they have their backline all fit (apart from Olding) for the first time in a long time. Bowe and Trimble are undroppable and Marshall plays 12. One has to miss out between Craig Gilroy and Darren Cave, with Jared Payne able to switch between 15 and 13. This weekend, it was Cave who got selected. He’s been one of Ulster’s most consistent players this season and while the clamour to get Payne into the 13 shirt has some, shall we say, external motivators, Ulster are still best served by him playing 15. It means Gilroy loses his starting place. It’s been a difficult year for Gilroy, who, like Madigan, just hasn’t really sparked into life. His exceptional performance against Argentina in 2012 underlined his explosive talent, but he hasn’t been able to replicate it since then. And where has the scoring nous gone?  He scored eight tries in 14 appearances in his first season, but the well has dried up. He managed just one last year and three this, last scoring in mid-December.

Down south, Donnacha Ryan could do with catching a break. He was one of the best players in the country in 2012, but has since then gone from injury to injury. A lacklustre 2013 Six Nations which he appeared to play through an injury scuppered his Lions chances and since then he’s had a pretty stop-start time of it. Now he’s once again doubtful for the game against Toulouse. He’d be a big loss to Munster, because Donncha O’Callaghan is no longer at this level and it’s a sizeable step down to Dave Foley. In the meantime, Devin Toner has cemented his place in the Ireland team, and next year should be a breakthrough for Iain Henderson, with Muller retiring. The heat is on. Schmidt’s singling of Ryan out for his work on the training paddock was a reminder of how highly he is regarded, and rightly so, but he needs an unbroken run of games to build some momentum.

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64 Comments

  1. Things are probably gonna get worse for Gilroy when Olding gets back. Can see Payne at 13 permanently with Olding moving to 15. Although would love to see Olding at 13. The whole D’arcy and BOD combination did show the benefits of extending a center partnership from club to country. I’m kind of traditional so would like to keep the Irish jersey for Irish players so Marshall & Olding together would be exciting to get a look at.

  2. Sound Steve

     /  April 2, 2014

    Don’t think Madigan’s up to it, never thought he was up to it – poor tactical kicker, poor defender, poor decision-maker

    Gilroy is more just unfortunate that Trimble has found form. I’d be very surprised if KMcL wasn’t carrying an injury.

    Don’t think the Simon Easterby comparison for Ruddock does either player justice but anyway…

    • Patrick O'Riordan

       /  April 2, 2014

      I don’t think Gilroy’s fading into relative obscurity is purely to do with Trimble’s form. Gilroy had a terrific try scoring record in his first couple of seasons but defenses got wise to him and it takes more than the ability to beat a player with a step and a swivel to be a top class winger. Gilroy just didn’t seem to put in the same amount of work that Trimble and Bowe do. They may have been attitude issues as well – Anscombe talked about players sulking because they weren’t in Ireland camp…. I wonder who that could have been?

      • Hairy Naomh Mhuire

         /  April 2, 2014

        Robbie Diack??

        • Rava

           /  April 2, 2014

          Definitely not Diack. Gilroy was dropped the game after Anscombe said that so the finger was pointed at him.

  3. Leinsterlion

     /  April 2, 2014

    MOC is at fault for Madigans poor play, Gopperth can be a better fit(at times) for whatever MOC is trying to do, but when we shift into a higher gear, with Redden lashing the ball out of rucks, Madigan is clearly suited to that type of game. With Gopperth on the park we are limited, Castres and Ospreys aside, I cant think of any games where he has stepped up and played to a high standard. Madigan can tear teams apart if we play high tempo front foot rugby, he has the pace to exploit gaps, its up to MOC to utilise that, if he doesnt he’ll be a Cipriani-esque(occasionally delivering) stopgap until Sexton returns.

    Locky is a strange one, he was injured/not plying for years, gets fit and into form and looked very good for a few years, grabs a few caps, then gets injured and reverts back to the player he was. He’s pushing thirty with loads of depth at six, I dont really see where he can go from here.

    • Not Michael Bent

       /  April 2, 2014

      I’ve always thought Locky very unfortunate to not have been a couple of inches taller (or even just a couple kilos heavier). He never quite seemed to reach the level of quality (or explosiveness) required of an international back row forward, but I always thought he could have done a job in the second row.

      It’s a bit harsh, but unless he makes a late move forward, I don’t really see the upside in him remaining at Leinster for much longer. Ruddock has passed him by, Jordi will be accommodated at 6 there at times (particularly when Seanie gets back), and then you’ve got Gilsenan, Van der Flier and Leavy coming through, who could all do with game time (even if slightly out of position).

      Maybe he gets next season, but if I were him, I’d give Bernard Jackman a call, and maybe squeeze in a couple of years in the alps.

    • It’s sheer utter nonsense to say O’Connor is at fault for Madigan being poor!

      He has serious flaws in his game, and now that his breaking threat has been minimised and teams have copped on to the long cut out pass, he’s being shown up a bit.

      I reckon he’ll start this weekend, and himself and Gopperth are fairly close, but his tactical kicking and ability to exert control on a game or play phase play is not where it needs to be. Jackson is far better at this and he’s three years younger.

      • osheaf01

         /  April 2, 2014

        Lads, lads! Claiming Jackson is better than Madigan?? How dare you? LeinsterLion’s head will explode if you keep expressing these heretical thoughts!
        A simple rule: Leinster Player >> Ulster/Munster Player.

        • connachtexile

           /  April 2, 2014

          There’s a very good chance that Gilsenan will be off to Connacht for next season. While Locky might not make the first XV when everyone is fit these days he is still an important squad player for Leinster and I can’t see them letting him go anytime soon.

      • Leinsterlion

         /  April 2, 2014

        @Oval, yeah because coaches have never killed a tens career or tens have never played poorly under certain coaches and brilliantly for others. Its weird how Madigan goes from pushing an imperious JS for the Leinster jersey to struggling to dislodge a lower level ITM/ GP player in the space of three/four months..
        Carlos Spencer went from literally leading one of the best backlines on the planet to shovelling passes to Bruce Reihana and Cohen and er no one else. Due to poor coaching. Sexton, one of the best tens in the game couldnt really get it going at international level and a geriatric O’Gara who’d been shot for years at international level was preferred ahead of him. I could go through the multitude of good English tens vying for Wilkos throne post ’03 thrown to the wolves at international level because of incompetent coaching. Google the Demented Moles piece on Jeremey Staunton. I could go on citing examples if you want….
        As for Jackson being better..He is an average player, he has no threat whatsoever, he’s a game manager, nothing more, he has no long term future as an international beyond vying with Ian Keatley for mop up duty for Madigan.Hanrahan, by contrast(depending on Munsters next coach progressing him, Munster branch should drop a line to Carlos Spencer) could actually become a threat to Madigan if he continues to improve, he has a break and good hands.

        • That’s biased nonsense fella. Madigan has been given more than enough chances this year and has been shown to not possess the game management skills to become a really good 10 yet. That’s why Gopperth has, rightly, been preferred to him at times.

          • Leinsterlion

             /  April 2, 2014

            Northampton away. Madigan running things, we utterly destroy them. Thats how to play rugby, best performance by an Irish province this season. But yeah Gopperths mediocrity is surely the way to go…. MOC is the problem not Madigan.

        • Watching Madigan this season I really feel he hasn’t improved the weaker attributes of his game this season and kicked on the way I expected. I take your point that coaching is of course instrumental in a player’s career progression, as well as luck and good timing but I do think there’s a case to answer from the player himself, and it’s not really fair to put the blame at MOC’s door.

          I know some Leinster fans have concerns about the form and direction the squad is heading and having sat through that particularly dire BP win over Zebre I can see why but O’Connor’s main responsibility isn’t Ian Madigan’s career progression, it’s that Leinster continue to win. There’s obviously an overlap between those two but Gopperth has deserved his selection thus far and Leinster have continued to win, albeit sometimes in a less than convincing manner.

          I suppose it comes down to whether you think what’s best for Madigan is synonymous with what’s best for the squad, which isn’t the absolute some take it to be. I’d view it as not dissimilar to Zebo in that Madigan has huge natural gifts and potential but surely there’s an onus on him to work on the weaknesses in his game and force the coach’s hand into selecting him over the competition. We only see a tiny fraction of the work the players so I’m always wary of thinking I know better than the coach. But maybe that’s just me!

          • B

             /  April 2, 2014

            LeinsterLion always delivers! Madigan never came close to pushing Sexton for his spot, although at times he looked like an able apprentice. This seasons showing suggests he was never even that. Kate is right to say that he hasn’t developed the weaker areas of his game and the fact that its taking him so long to do so suggests he either isn’t aware of them or worse doesn’t believe he needs to improve.

          • Leinsterlion

             /  April 2, 2014

            @KateI would build my team around Madigan, MOC is wrong, we can continue to scrape wins playing reductive rugby like his Leicester sides of the past, or we can get onto Madigans wavelength and go out and try to trounce them. So far MOC is content to be in the results business first, entertainment second, as a result a lot of Munster/Leinster games were completely interchangeable, swap the jerseys and you would not know who was playing, no style, no pace, nothing, aimless sideline ball, unwatchable, and they wonder why no one wants to sponsor the league?

            @tumescent game management fetishisers In what way does Madigan need to improve? His kicking away of possession? Yes, if we want to play the MOC way its true, but if we want to actually play rugby, not eye cancer, game management and giving the ball to the opposition are not the way to play post 08/ELV rugby.

        • Bobby T

           /  April 2, 2014

          Ah come on…you have your eyes firmly shut if you are being so overly critical on Jackson…who was actually chosen at 10 ahead of hanrahan at under age and has plenty of attacking flair (just watch the highlights of ulster v Scarlets a couple of weeks ago if you doubt that). He has all the attributes that Madigan lacks and he is a lot younger and already vastly more experienced. Madigan could be a great player but great players need to adapt to various ways of playing.
          On a separate note did anyone see him getting completely skittled by keith earls last week…..I mean keith earls the man lacking all physical necessities to play 13!

          • If you actually care to look at what happened in Northampton away LL, which I had a feeling you’d bring up, Madigan had a relatively small amount to do with what happened, and wasn’t put under any pressure to control the game, his fowards did that for him. In actual fact, what you’re saying there supports my point, Madigan is great when it’s all going well up front and he can run the ball, but pin him back and make him find a way to unlock a defence and he can become very one dimensional. That’s one of the parts of Sexton’s (and Jackson’s) game that we dearly miss.

            That’s not going to happen on Sunday, which is the part of his game that usually falls apart.

            I could just as easily bring up games like Connacht away, Northampton at home and even the recent Glasgow game when he failed to do just that.

            Blaming a coach for a player not evolving can have some merit, but MOC also has to win, and often Gopperth’s better kicking from hand and brain gives us a better chance of doing that.

          • Leinsterlion

             /  April 2, 2014

            Look at every international appearance Jackson has made, he stands deep, indicating his mindset, every Madigan appearance he stands flat looking for the ball. Jackson will never be a top player, for all his experience he is still afraid to take it on the gainline. Its why Keatley will never be a top player, why Dan Parks was never a top player, why Wilkinson post 03 was not a top player, Why O’Gara post 07 was utterly shot as an international. The game has moved beyond the ten merely being a deep sitting kicking/passing conduit, he needs to be a serious breaking threat or be able to play on the gainline, Jackson doesnt do that, Madigan does(a few wayward kicks(when he shouldnt be kicking anyway)), Jacksons tactical kicking can not make up for that.

          • Leinsterlion

             /  April 2, 2014

            @Oval, its not Madigans job to provide quick ball, if we cant do that, kicking it away is not the answer, if you are relying on the opposition to make mistakes by giving them possession or looking to the lottery of the set piece you are a crap coach. Madigan is the best front foot player in Ireland, thats all that matters, its up to MOC to utilise that, the Reds managed it with Quade Cooper, the Blues did it with Spencer, both won titles. You dont win by being conservative, you win with front foot ball.
            In the modern game you cant win without it, its a moot point to say Jackson does better on the back foot, you are not going to win if you are getting murdered everytime you try to generate some momentum outside of the boot, its a logical fallacy. How much better is Madigan on the front foot then other players in Ireland? That is the yardstick, because that is the goal in rugby, how good you are going forward, defence can be taught, its not hard, solid D+ruthless attack, thats rugby, not “game management”.

          • Don Alfonso

             /  April 2, 2014

            It seems to me that the only people who think Jacko is a patch on Mad Dog are one-eyed Ulster fans. And Joe “Leinstertainment” Schmidt, obviously.

          • @Leinsterlion “Wilkinson post 03 was not a top player”, the same Wilkinson who is being paid through the nose in a squad filled with internationals in a club which can afford any player bankrolled by a multimillionaire who clearly wants his team to succeed. How close to the top do you have to be a top player?

          • SportingBench

             /  April 3, 2014

            Surely that argument cuts both ways LeinsterLion. If you argue that Madigan can only play with front foot ball and it is the pack’s fault for not supplying it, why can’t you argue the pack can only supply slow ball and it is Madigan fault for not being able to do much with it? After all,it is pretty unrealistic to expect your pack to be dominant every game and if they are, most likely you will win regardless of who plays 10.

          • Bobby T

             /  April 3, 2014

            Madigan and Jacksons international appearances are beyond compare, in that Jacksons have been far more impressive. Don’t know what basis you have for Madigan attacking the game line internationally? Two starts in the US where we scraped victory, without scoring any tries? or a handful of 5 minute cameos, where the only thing that stands out in anyones memory is his part in the last minute NZ melt-down leading to Sean O’Brien calling him out publicly?
            Look I think Madigan is a fantastic player and has serious potential (it is still potential) but Jackson has hands-down been more impressive in his career so far. If you cant even acknowledge Jackson for the player he is then you are beyond reason in your blinkered views. You also negated to comment on Spencer and Cooper’s pretty dismal international careers in comparison to their one or two seasons in the sun at club level?

          • Sound Steve

             /  April 3, 2014

            Leinster Lion – your two examples are teams who have failed to make any lasting impression. The Blues and thes Reds won solitary titles with no real legacy to speak of and their respective 10s are both flaky at best

          • Leinsterlion

             /  April 3, 2014

            @Ross, I think Wilkos injury record post 03 points to him not being a top player. Until he moved to Toulon he barely strung a season together and his body was falling to pieces, he’s still a fine player , but he’s not half the player he was, pace is gone, defence doesnt have the same bite, doesnt have the range in his boot, sits too deep. He’s on the back end of a fine career, if Toulon win on the weekend, it wont be because of Wilko(if he starts ahead of Freddie).

            @Sporting, I cant think of any tens who can get anything moving without their pack supplying them front foot ball unless the have a Sonny Bill or any other Bosh Merchant alongside them. Even if you have the best tactical kicking game in the world you have to position yourself to use it via some sort of go forward, otherwise you get killed by good teams bringing it back as Ireland found out when Sexton was under pressure due to having no carriers in the pack and centers to create space for him to kick, so his lauded kicking game, praised against wales was utterly useless against England. And we saw O’Gara game fall to pieces after the rule changes, tactical kicking or game management is a tiny part of the modern game.

            @Bobby T, I beg to differ, Spencer played in the best Un-Zee team after Henrys 05 vintage( in the modern era), a WC semi due to a coach selecting FB’s in the center and having no set piece, and a few tri nations is not a shabby return, far more then any lauded “tacical kicking maestros” have won at international level eg , O’Gara, and more or less the same level of success as the likes of Mehrtens(who has double his caps). Cant really compare Cooper his career is still starting off.
            Jackson sits too deep and doesnt demand the ball, compare that to Madigans or even Sextons positioning, until he stands or takes the ball flatter, I wont rate him.

          • Bobby T

             /  April 3, 2014

            Who mentioned ‘tactical kicking’?

          • Leinsterlion

             /  April 3, 2014

            @SoundSteve Spencer won two/three titles with the Blues one of which 03, was the best season by a club side ever, better then Toulouse and Leinster on their best, they hammered teams, with a team built entirely around Spencer(they haven’t won anything since he left).

            Its actually hilarious how blind Irish rugby fans are, a decade of shite served up by Munster lauded as brilliant because they won two silver pots sets the template for international failure (as myopic rugby doesnt win anything at the top unless you are physical beasts), yet O’Gara is heralded as a world class player(he never was) whilst a genuine rugby playing talent like Madigan is treated with suspicion as “shure he doent kick the ball away, he holds onto it”. You either want to play to win, play rugby, or play to force mistakes from the opposition and minimise risk playing soul destroying stuff, we have chosen the soul destroying stuff too often, and our lack of success highlights it.
            People are actually criticising Madigan for taking risks, actually wanting to play rugby, thats how brainwashed they are by the Munster Media Complex(like the Military Industrial Complex, only much much worse).

    • KM

       /  April 2, 2014

      Would it not make sense to start trying Madigan at twelve? With Sexton seemingly returning at the end of his contract and D’arcy nearing the end, it’s a perfect fit. It would accentuate his strengths (gain line threat, distribution) while allowing others to game manage. Bam Bam’s recent woes should remind us to diversify our options. Plus he would be a cracking reserve place kicker to have on the pitch. The possible combinations from

      10 – Sexton/Jackson
      12 – Marshall/Madigan
      13 – Henshaw/Olding

      are mouth watering.

  4. connachtexile

     /  April 2, 2014

    We were actually just talking about Donnacha Ryan and a few other players like McSharry, Fitzgerald and Ferris and if Schmidt should ever pick them again on the Connacht Forum. Link here – http://connachtclan.com/forum/3-other-rugby/26047-re-calling-time-on-a-players-international-career#26053
    In the case of Donnacha Ryan I wouldn’t pick him again if I was Schmidt. Ireland only have 10 games left before the World Cup so picking a player like Ryan with his injury profile doesn’t make sense to me as the chances of him being injured are a lot higher than the likes of Henderson, McCarthy or Foley at Munster who are just as good as him, younger and now have a lot more time and experience than Ryan under Schmidt’s regime.

    • zdm

       /  April 2, 2014

      Depends on how doe-eyed you get I suppose, particularly with Fez – I don’t know how well served either he or Ireland would be talking about a comeback at the minute and as an Ulster supporter, I think we are owed our pound of flesh before he spends half the year at Carton House. Still, the idea of him carrying Australian scrum halves around like new-born calves makes me tingle in my special place…

    • Not sure about this logic. The World Cup is eons away, there’s buckets of time for the likes of Donnacha Ryan to prove their fitness. And it’s not like we’re playing on the other side of the world; if someone like Ferris got injured in the week before the first match, it would hardly be that challenging to fly, say, Rhys Ruddock over from Dublin.

      I think you’re underrating Ryan’s ability too. With respect to the players you mention, they’re all good but Ryan is a cut above all of them (although Henderson has an exceptionally high ceiling), and is most certainly not older than Mike McCarthy

      • The big question is whether Ryan can return to his 2012 form. If he can, he’s comfortably better than Foley, just about better than McCarthy, and a better fit for second row right now than Henderson (who, as you rightly say, has absolutely enormous potential). If he’s playing at his chronic injury 2013 form, he’s not a better option than any of those players, assuming Foley continues his development. My gut feeling is that 2013 was the outlier and not 2012, and the way he was rampaging around the park the week before last against Zebre reassured me of that. Hopefully Munster win this weekend and he recovers fitness in time for a HEC semi, at which point we’ll be in a much better position to know where he stands.

      • connachtexile

         /  April 2, 2014

        I rate Ryan just not as highly as you guys. I’m just questioning should we back him or go with guys with a better injury profile or are up and coming. For me I’d cut my loses with him and put my money on the likes of Tuohy, Henderson and McCarthy with Foley in the squad as back-ups to POC & Toner.

        • I think that’s pretty unfair to Donnacha Ryan. He has nowhere like the injury profile of Ferris and plays in the position with the greatest longevity a la Big Bad Brad. I think he’s a really underrated player, a great tourist and seems to be a great presence in a training squad. He’s had a terrible run of luck but I think it’s jumping the gun to put him out to pasture. On form he’s better than McCarthy and probably Tuohy too and offers an option at 6. Henderson has boundless potential but he’s not there yet.

          Also, it’s not an attitude I’m overly fond of in such an attritional sport. Injured players deserve a chance to return to fitness where possible. The forced retirement of players like Wilkinson most recently remind us that this can all be incredibly fleeting and there’s a certain duty of care here. Of course there’s a limited number of injured players any country or club can carry and I’m not suggesting unlimited time and chances by any means but advocating axing Ryan after players like Ferris and Fitzgerald were given every opportunity to recover seems a bit extreme and a bit too ruthless. I think he’s not a player blessed with the much-maligned “good face” but he’s more valuable than this suggestion takes into account.

          • Great post, thanks Kate. I can’t see the sense in putting Ryan out to pasture either. He’s hardly over the hill at just 30 and with not a huge amount of miles in the clock he could be good for another five or six years. This is his first real injury-hit passage of his career, so it’s not like he’s been on the treatment table more often than not since he was 20, or anything like it.

            Ther’s competition for places in the national team in his position, but he’s more tha good enough to get back into the picture with a bit of luck.

  5. zdm

     /  April 2, 2014

    Can some of our western brethren comment on how Willie Faloon is getting on? I was sad to see him leave Ulster as I thought he was a solid option in the back row.
    Last season seemed a good year for him and I was pleased to see him make hay.
    I haven’t heard as much about him this year.

    • Pretty much the first thing Oor Willie did at Connacht was a one handed pickup of a loose ball while at full pelt that stopped a promising break from fizzling out (as they tend to do round these parts), and Connacht fans have pretty much adored him ever since. Excellent first season, he’s been injured most of this season but is due back soon, which is just as well as our other 7, Heenan, is out for the season. Willie’s signed on until 2016 which shows the coaches rate him as much as the fans.

      • Yeah, Faloon can be exceptionally silky, he’s the closest thing we have to a Justin Tipuric type 7. Great to watch when he’s on form, but can find himself a marginal figure just a bit too often.

      • zdm

         /  April 2, 2014

        He was immense against Ulster last season, played out of his skin and captained the side as I remember. He’s a good leader, solid defensively and a scrapper when the ball is loose. If the coaching ticket can channel his enthusiasm in to something more controlled, he should develop nicely I hope.

        • zdm

           /  April 2, 2014

          I’m not sure how autocorrect changed Faloon to Muldoon but you seem to have caught my drift…

          • Hairy Naomh Mhuire

             /  April 2, 2014

            Player of the year (as voted for by supporters club) in his first year at Connacht – fine achievement.

          • connachtexile

             /  April 2, 2014

            Willie rules. Gonna be interesting next season watching him and Heenan duking it out for the number 7 shirt.

          • Fixed it for you!

  6. Bozo

     /  April 2, 2014

    There was a fella who scored plenty of tries for Leinster a few years ago – Dom Ryan… What happened to that lad?

    • He got injured and hasn’t looked the same since. Still on the books at Leinster, but the hype-machine is in mothballs. He’d his best game in some time against Zebre recently, but memories of his outstanding cameo off the bench against Toulouse in the Heineken Cup semi-final are fading…

      • Len

         /  April 2, 2014

        I heard a rumour that he got a bit big for his boots under joe and found himself cooling his heels with the A team. Epic tackler, recall a match against dragons about two seasons ago on a cold Friday night. He hit a guy on the half way line and the sound made the entire crowd go oooo in unison. Great option of the bench but very unlikely to displace either Jenno (on current form) or Murphy.

        • Joe Schmidt’s comment in his final Leinster season after a Jordi Murphy barnstormer were noteworthy. He said something to the effect that ‘a couple of years ago Dom Ryan was getting these sorts of notices.’ It sounded pretty much like a kick up the arse for Ryaner.

          • Hairy Naomh Mhuire

             /  April 3, 2014

            It also sounds very much like a friendly reminder for Jordi to keep his feet firmly on the ground!

    • Sound Steve

       /  April 2, 2014

      Really disappointing to see Ryan’s progress stall as he was/is a rare athlete. We don’t produce too many back row players with the kind of physicality he was capable of at 20/21 either. I always felt a move to the Premiership would have worked for him.

    • Leinsterlion

       /  April 2, 2014

      One of my mates came in after the half during the Leinster/Munster match and remarked, “whose that at 7, Dom Ryan?”, just after another Jennings offload/break/offload while we were playing at pace on the attack. What could have been..

      • osheaf01

         /  April 2, 2014

        If only Dom Ryan had had a good coach…poor Dom. Maybe he can cry on Poor Ian’s shoulder.

  7. Yossarian

     /  April 2, 2014

    Not wanting to come down on either side of the madigan debate but it annoys me when people cite madigans lack of a kicking game to say he can’t be a “controlling” out half. In modern rugby there is more to control than the version George hook spouts, it is not just kicking to the corners and turning defences when you have a lead to defend. Controlling can involve putting your team I’m the right parts of the pitch by distributing to the outside runners to get you there or by controlling the tempo of the attack to put opposition under pressure. We talk about Pienarr being a “controlling 9” and this is what he does, puts his team in the right parts of the pitch by boot or distributing. Madigan(last year,on form as opposed to this years version) did that. It was through running the ball and George hook types couldn’t appreciate that he had leinster in the right parts of the pitch by a mean other than traditional kicking. In his cameo against the French I thought he didn’t put a foot wrong. He was mixing runners and accurate up and unders when he got the ball(the pressure we were under was more than a 10 could influence).
    His kicking game needs work as this year he has been shut down and you won’t always be on the front foot but the constant quoting of “game management” is tiresome.

    • Amiga500

       /  April 2, 2014

      If you can’t vary your game up, then its only a matter of time (relatively short at that), before the top teams figure out how to counter.

    • SportingBench

       /  April 3, 2014

      You’re right Yossarian, there is more than one way to “control” a game and to be a top 10 or 9 you need access to more than one method. The problem with Madigan currently appears to be that he isn’t adapting and improving as all players must to thrive at HC and International level. That doesn’t mean he wont as this season, when he expected to be the Leinster 10 I’m sure, might be the wake up call for him to improve where he needs too.

    • It’s a basic tenet of rugby that kicking from hand is necessary for game management. Yossarian thinks that game management can be reduced to Madigan’s interminable skip passes to 13. It can’t. Hook is completely right. Game management is a package of skills, and Madigan is weak in some of them. Because he doesn’t pose a particularly credible tactical kicking threat (i.e. because he can’t place the ball in behind the opposing back three at ease, thereby allowing his team to put pressure on opponents in a dangerous position [bear in mind that points scored off forced mistakes are as valuable as those scored off brilliant attacking play]), opposing wingers can more easily press up in defence on the outside edge. That means there’s less space out wide to attack, and the opposing defence can blitz faster, which in turn means Leinster are more reliant than they should be on immaculate quick ball to create attacking opportunities. Thus, if opposing teams can get parity at the set-piece and the breakdown, a la Northampton in Dublin, Leinster will find it very difficult to break down their defence because their attacking options are relatively predictable. This is further exacrerbated by having a 10 whose first instinct is to cut back inside to look for a gap and whose second instinct seems to be throwing Hollywood skip passes.

      None of this is rocket science. Anyone who’s played wing or even 10 at all knows the knock-on impacts a good kicker from hand has on a team’s defensive shape. Theological opposition to tactical kicking, like LL displays, just demonstrates a lack of understanding of the basics of the game. There’s a reason the Leinster side that had David Knox as a coach never won anything.

      • Yossarian

         /  April 3, 2014

        You have missed my point, you can game manage by more than kicking alone. Obviously having the full bag of tricks ala Sexton means you can do both but saying you can not game manage any other way is also incorrect. Keatley is a better kicker than Madigan but is he a far superior game manager as a result of that?i don’t think so. Madigan may rely on a better quality of ball to exert his type of control and that is a seperate issue but there is a reason why Madigan is ahead of Keatley in the out half pecking order. (which currently reads, Sexton,Jackson,Madigan)

        • I completely understood your point. You’ve reiterated it, and it’s still wrong. You cannot be a top-class game manager at 10 if you aren’t a very good tactical kicker.

      • Leinsterlion

         /  April 3, 2014

        But the Leinster attack coached by Knox was something I’d pay to see again, you couldnt pay me to watch any of Munsters runs during the same period.

        • Have you considered just watching sevens instead?

          • Cian

             /  April 3, 2014

            I think you’ve hit the nail on the head here. Leinsterlion doesn’t actually like 15-a-side rugby union. This explains an awful lot.

          • Leinsterlion

             /  April 3, 2014

            Ha, sevens is terrible. I only bother watching rugby(nrl, super, HC, T14 etc) if its quality, I dont see the point otherwise, i’d watch a crap Leinster game but I’m under no illusions that I’m watching crap, nor would I go online and try to convince people that its not crap or that the results justify the crap. And Leinster have been largely crap this season.

    • By the way, the reason people refer to Pienaar and Murray as game-controlling 9s is precisely because they can assume primary responsibility for tactical kicking. They don’t distribute in any way differently from other scrum-halves who aren’t described as game controllers, although they both do vary the tempo more than traditional, pace-oriented, enabler scrum-halves like Reddan or Care. But it’s primarily the fact that they can kick really really well which makes them controlling 9s.

    • Just to be clear, I’m not equating a great tactical kicker is necessarily a great controlling 10.
      It’s certainly a big part of it though and Madigan doesn’t possess those skills at the minute

      However, Madigan’s general play, his ability to bring his backline into the game and move his team around just doesn’t compare to Sexton, and is also behind Jackson. He’s gotten away with at Rabo level because his wristy pass and cut back inside are so effective, but it doesn’t work at the top end of the game.

      This weekend will be a big test for this part of his game.

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