In the words of my favourite villain, here…..we……go…..
The 6 Nations is 48 hours away as I write this and while there is a gloom around the Irish rugby pudit-iverse, I am looking forward to it with positivity. Unfortunately for the second year running I won’t hear Nugent screaming TOOOMMMMMYYY BBBBOOOOOOWWWWEEE but that’s a small thing.
People are worried about injuries, selection and game plans. Sticking to the old players who are missing out through injury and saying it will hamper Ireland making history.
First question, how many of the injured players would you pick in your starting 15? On the injured list we have Cian Healy, Mike Ross, Ian Henderson and Luke Fitzgerald as the main squad players who will miss this year’s tournament.
One by one, Cian Healy? An absolute beast of a player when on form, scary pace and serious power in the scrum. But he hasn’t regained form, niggling injuries haven’t helped. For me, he would be starting with McGrath stepping up hugely in blue this year. Ross was always going to be a 60 minute max player. The poor fella can’t play 80 minutes and has been used and abused in green due to the lack of cover up to this point. A massive servant in green, but again, do you start him? Is he is the squad? For me, no.
Ian Henderson, massive loss nothing else to say.
Luke Fitzgerald? My former arch nemesis now just regular nemesis (for no known reason) has been playing very well for the longest period of time in 5 years. He was the only player to scare Toulon in both games and you could see that he was nearing his best. Then a bad twist and he is out. Was Luke going to start in midfield or on the wing? I don’t think so. I think King Joe has the team picked and Luke would be on the bench.
My point is we have cover and the team is picking itself with the exception of Henderson. With his huge loss Mike McCarthy has stepped up with his best performances since joining Leinster and along with Donncha Ryan from Munster the partner for toner is not a big worry.
The captain will be marshalling the front row that will be light on caps but heavy on ability. Second row mentioned above. Back row, it seems everyone in Ireland is a back rower at this stage. Again, not a worry.
Its Murray and Sexton/Madigan at 9 and 10. We all talk about concussion with sexton and it is a worry, but the medical team have passed him fit and he will be ready to go. My only issue is when medical teams say it isn’t a concussion when it obviously is, see Keith Earls the other week as well as Sexton recently. Both obvious concussions and this is coming from someone who has had more than his fair share.
So with that, let’s pick the team:
- Ryan / McCarthy
- Van Der Flier (throw him in)
- Payne / Madigan
- Earls / D Kearney
- R Kearney / Payne
That’s my starting selection with the players in the squad. Not a bad team, not a team to worry about taking the field against Wales. My choice for 7 is to give the lad a baptism by fire. Sink or swim. He looks well capable, let’s put him in and see.
As for who will win the competition, I don’t think there’s a grand slam on. Ireland and Wales will be 1 and 2. I just can’t pick which way around. Heart versus hating Warren Gatland, but sure you know yourself about that.
As usual, @nkeegan if you want to shout at me.
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Until next time.