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Irish Rugby - The Party Years

munstermuffin

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I think English journos have been saying Sexton is in decline since he left the womb so it's not worth much!
To be fair they weren't saying that more the lack of real competition behimd him.
 

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Surprised Ruddock’s been left out. Not just a consistent and high quality player, I actually think the guy is a good leader too. With Best retiring and Sexton being ‘abrasive’ towards refs... it wouldn’t hurt to have someone like Ruddock in the squad.
 

munstermuffin

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Surprised Ruddock’s been left out. Not just a consistent and high quality player, I actually think the guy is a good leader too. With Best retiring and Sexton being ‘abrasive’ towards refs... it wouldn’t hurt to have someone like Ruddock in the squad.
To be fair he was ok today but I think didn't do enough to get in and well in the "captain" stakes he was up against POM and that reason was why POM who captained a Lions test team is probably in. Not on form as much. But think the rest included in the backrow are ahead of Ruddock comfortably.
From today McCloskey is the strange ommission. And John Cooney was the performer who I think nailed down a green jersey. Like I said in backrow battle. If a man in possession isn't playing well that is when the challenger needs to act. Deegan has done it, Doris has and Cooney 100% has. Rob B on the wing for red hands was impressive too. Herring wqs poor tonight and Kelliher is probably the man to start IF his form was as good as his last game.
Healy and Kilcoyne are only 2 that are keeping up good form of first and second choice.
Furlong has been ok and Porter performing.
2nd rows Ryan and Henderson.
 

bushytop

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To be fair he was ok today but I think didn't do enough to get in and well in the "captain" stakes he was up against POM and that reason was why POM who captained a Lions test team is probably in. Not on form as much. But think the rest included in the backrow are ahead of Ruddock comfortably.
From today McCloskey is the strange ommission. And John Cooney was the performer who I think nailed down a green jersey. Like I said in backrow battle. If a man in possession isn't playing well that is when the challenger needs to act. Deegan has done it, Doris has and Cooney 100% has. Rob B on the wing for red hands was impressive too. Herring wqs poor tonight and Kelliher is probably the man to start IF his form was as good as his last game.
Healy and Kilcoyne are only 2 that are keeping up good form of first and second choice.
Furlong has been ok and Porter performing.
2nd rows Ryan and Henderson.
You’re probably right, I don’t watch the Irish players as closely as the Welsh... I’ve always rated him but maybe there are others who’ve come through who are more in form. I think I’m probably basing my opinions on the World Cup where I thought he was probably Ireland’s best back row. It’s funny as I know the WRU were originally interested in Rhys what with his Welsh heritage etc. It’s inconsequential but I reckon he might well have amassed a fair few Welsh Caps more than he has Irish ones by now. Not saying he made the wrong decision, he obviously wants to rep Ireland and that’s what is most important.
 
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Ruddock is a serially unlucky player. In another decade he'd have 70 Ireland caps without ever having his place in the team questioned. He's someone who's been maybe the fifth/sixth best backrow in Ireland for most of his career even as the guys ahead of him changed which means he's been in almost every squad without getting many caps.

Different story with Leinster but same outcome, we've been stacked in the backrow forever which means to nail down a place you have to be a genuinely special player like SOB, Heaslip or Leavy or you need to have a sustained spell of excellent form like say JvdF or Conan over the last few years. Ruddock isn't in the first category and whenever he gets into the second he always, without fail, gets injured (which then scuppers his Ireland chances just as he hits a level where he's actually pushing for the 23). Last season kinda summed it up, he started almost every European game at 6, captained us in the qf, was named to start the semi but woke up feeling sick on the morning and couldn't play. Fardy came in and played a blinder and started the final off that. The year before he was in brilliant form and was starting in a team that couldn't even fit Leavy into the 23 but got slapped with a long term injury and couldn't make it back until the final where he didn't make it off the bench. This season he was our best backrow at the world cup but didn't start the quarter final, (much like every other Irish squad player who outplayed the starter at that tournament). Went back to Leinster and has been really good but gets left out of the squad which must seem inexplicable to him because there hasn't been much else he can do. If you go further back it's the same story again and again.

The thing is though, I don't think I'd swap any of the backrows in the squad out for him. I do think we might regret not having him in there because POM is the only out and out backrow in there and he's been nowhere near his best for a while now.

You can't help but feel sorry for the guy, he's a model pro and then some, he's spent almost a decade putting in consistently very good performances and all he has to show for it is being on the winning side of a few Pro14 finals and coming off the bench in two world cup quarter finals when the game was lost (and an awful lot of games captaining Leinster and Ireland's B teams).

At the end of the day he is massively appreciated at Leinster tbf, and is our best out and out 6 at the moment (although Leavy and Fardy would could edge him out from lock/7 respectively). He is a guy Leinster fans love and most people from other provinces rate but obviously he'd want more than that and I hope he gets it because no one could say it's not deserved.

(This post is a bit wandery really but it's late)
 

munstermuffin

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Ruddock is a serially unlucky player. In another decade he'd have 70 Ireland caps without ever having his place in the team questioned. He's someone who's been maybe the fifth/sixth best backrow in Ireland for most of his career even as the guys ahead of him changed which means he's been in almost every squad without getting many caps.

Different story with Leinster but same outcome, we've been stacked in the backrow forever which means to nail down a place you have to be a genuinely special player like SOB, Heaslip or Leavy or you need to have a sustained spell of excellent form like say JvdF or Conan over the last few years. Ruddock isn't in the first category and whenever he gets into the second he always, without fail, gets injured (which then scuppers his Ireland chances just as he hits a level where he's actually pushing for the 23). Last season kinda summed it up, he started almost every European game at 6, captained us in the qf, was named to start the semi but woke up feeling sick on the morning and couldn't play. Fardy came in and played a blinder and started the final off that. The year before he was in brilliant form and was starting in a team that couldn't even fit Leavy into the 23 but got slapped with a long term injury and couldn't make it back until the final where he didn't make it off the bench. This season he was our best backrow at the world cup but didn't start the quarter final, (much like every other Irish squad player who outplayed the starter at that tournament). Went back to Leinster and has been really good but gets left out of the squad which must seem inexplicable to him because there hasn't been much else he can do. If you go further back it's the same story again and again.

The thing is though, I don't think I'd swap any of the backrows in the squad out for him. I do think we might regret not having him in there because POM is the only out and out backrow in there and he's been nowhere near his best for a while now.

You can't help but feel sorry for the guy, he's a model pro and then some, he's spent almost a decade putting in consistently very good performances and all he has to show for it is being on the winning side of a few Pro14 finals and coming off the bench in two world cup quarter finals when the game was lost (and an awful lot of games captaining Leinster and Ireland's B teams).

At the end of the day he is massively appreciated at Leinster tbf, and is our best out and out 6 at the moment (although Leavy and Fardy would could edge him out from lock/7 respectively). He is a guy Leinster fans love and most people from other provinces rate but obviously he'd want more than that and I hope he gets it because no one could say it's not deserved.

(This post is a bit wandery really but it's late)
That is probably my point. He is a consistent and good player. But he stays stick just outside quota always. A great squad player and good quality butalways rhe 5th, 6th or 7th ranked player in backrow
 

big ginger 8

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Surprised in the round up of performances from yesterday Luke McGrath didn't get a mention. The best part about Leinster yesterday, was good to see him doing more sniping which is something he's really good at. The captaincy suited him.
 

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Murray will get a place in the 23 but I don't think he deserves it at all, Cooney has been far and a way the best 9 while at McGrath's best he's been better than Murray while their average worst performances have been fairly similar.

I'm hopeful Faz won't select the old faithful who haven't played well for a long time, he got rid of RK who did fantastic to get himself to a world cup in form but it's clear this season it took its toll, you have to hope he does the same for Murray and POM and that they're only in the squad because they're that bit younger with a chance of turning it around and in Earls' case it's just that we're a bit shallow on the wing and he won't see the 23 either.

With the significant European games done this would be my 23:

Larmour, Conway, Ringrose, Aki, Stockdale, Sexton (Byrne until fit but Burns is pushing the last two weeks) Cooney, Deegan, VDF, Stander, Henderson, Ryan, Furlong, Kelleher, Healy

Kilcoyne, Herring, Porter, Toner, Doris, McGrath, Byrne/Burns, Addison.

Harsh enough on Henshaw but he's not a 23 and Aki has been v good out west albeit. Wouldn't mind either way on that one though.
 

munstermuffin

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Murray will get a place in the 23 but I don't think he deserves it at all, Cooney has been far and a way the best 9 while at McGrath's best he's been better than Murray while their average worst performances have been fairly similar.

I'm hopeful Faz won't select the old faithful who haven't played well for a long time, he got rid of RK who did fantastic to get himself to a world cup in form but it's clear this season it took its toll, you have to hope he does the same for Murray and POM and that they're only in the squad because they're that bit younger with a chance of turning it around and in Earls' case it's just that we're a bit shallow on the wing and he won't see the 23 either.

With the significant European games done this would be my 23:

Larmour, Conway, Ringrose, Aki, Stockdale, Sexton (Byrne until fit but Burns is pushing the last two weeks) Cooney, Deegan, VDF, Stander, Henderson, Ryan, Furlong, Kelleher, Healy

Kilcoyne, Herring, Porter, Toner, Doris, McGrath, Byrne/Burns, Addison.

Harsh enough on Henshaw but he's not a 23 and Aki has been v good out west albeit. Wouldn't mind either way on that one though.
Hard to argue with that.
2 points though. Toner isn't a 19. But bo real alternative.
And hooker is huge worry. Herring has been ok. Kelliher very good but rusty.
Murray on form is much better than McGrath but on form McGrath is better but being honest neither current form is up to whats needed
 

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McGrath is coming off some excellent games for Leinster after being very mixed earlier on this season, it might not be enough to catapult him into the 23 but he has a much better chance than he did a month ago. Cooney is out on his own.

At outhalf Burns is pushing Byrne over the last few games, if Sexton isn't fit I'd have Ross starting insgead of throwing Bruns in for a debut but it's a tight call on form if we're choosing a 22. I'd prefer Ross but Burns has made his claim well.

12 is much of a muchness between Aki and Henshaw. Again I'd prefer Henshaw but opting for Aki (or McCloskey) would have been a fair call. 13 is Ringrose all day and night.

Back three is interesting, Conway has one of the wing spots on form and Larmour is presumably in line at fullback, Stockdale is probably going to keep his spot as well. Dave is playing really well but would be seen as backwards step. Has shown himself to be a viable option though. Addison is perfect for the 23 shirt, he's in good form even before versatility is taken into account.

Prop is easy, only real question is whether Kilcoyne and/or Porter should be starting on form, both have a case but no doubt as to who'll be in the 23. I'll admit to being worried by O'Toole though, he's an injury away from coming off the bench in Twickenham which he doesn't look ready for. One for the future though and similar to what we did with Porter a few years ago and that has worked out pretty well so I'll reserve judgement.

Hooker is an open game, none of them has ever played in the Six Nations and they all have a big opportunity here. Kelleher is the best but is young, green, and hasn't played in months. Would put him in 16 if he's fit and then work from there depending on performance. Herring is a bit meh, solid player but never a world beater, probably the most likely to start against Scotland though. Heffernan is a wildcard, obviously rated by the coaches but who knows how highly, he could be viewed as a potential starter or as squad filler for all we know. Depending on Kelleher's fitness there is a good chance he gets on the pitch at some point so we'll see how he does.

At lock it's Ryan and probably Henderson. Toner has been very good this year and if he started it wouldn't be undeserved. Especially with three hookers inexperienced at this level his ability in the lineout could be critical. Dillanne is another option if we want extra impact off the bench but isn't pushing to start right now.

Backrow is maybe the most contentious area, POM doesn't deserve to start and the fact that he wasn't made captain doesn't bode well for him. The only person who can be comfortable is Van der Flier who's out on his own and then some at 7. Beyond that it's anyone's guess. Deegan should be viewed as an 8 rather than a 6 though, he's not nearly as good as a flanker. I'd probably go for 6. Stander 7. Van Der Flier 8. Doris 20. Deegan but we'll who does got picked.
 

Amiga500

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I think I'd go with

1. Healy
2. Heffernan (Herring's throwing is just too iffy right now - consistently losing lineouts due to being picked off is one thing - but losing them from being not straight is quite another)
3. Furlong
4. Ryan (c)
5. Henderson
6. Stander
7. VDF
8. Doris

15. Larmour
14. Conway
13. Ringrose
12. Henshaw
11. Stockdale
10. Byrne (Sexton is not match fit = doesn't play in my test team. Don't give a f**k who you are, you haven't played in months, you don't get straight in)
9. Cooney


Assuming form held, Kelleher would have been hooker but for the injury. Beirne would have been my 6 but for injury too.
I'd have had Balacoune in the squad - and I'd have played him ahead of either of Stockdale or Conway.
Carty's form is muck right now, so thats a no brainer.

Sexton does not walk back into the team. Rusty, and at that he didn't show well in Japan. He needs to demonstrate sharpness after months out and that is not done in a 6N match.


Ryan is the captain 'cos he is first name on the teamsheet, the natural pack leader and someone who has captained his country multiple times before. Picking Sexton was a daft f**king idea and a real amateur hour effort of "ah sure he's been around a long time, and he was great once, he 'deserves' it" - the kind of crap we excel at here. It'd sicken yer hole.

J10's not the best man for the job, end of.
 

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Larmour's got a low grade foot strain and will be further assessed in the coming days. Not great for a guy who needs to be agile and fast. Might see Addison in at 15 for Scotland.
 

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McCloskey called up. Wonder if it's in relation to Farrell or Larmour.
 

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Sexy and Kelleher to be fit for the Scots.
 

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Happy Birthday Garry Ringrose. I love you.
 
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