Thursday, December 20, 2012

Keego on…Losses & Locks

Do Leinster have the right mix in their squad right now? asks Keego…

790485_100826182648_Rugby_ball_1

And so here we are. 2012 is nearly over and unfortunately the Heineken cup may be over for Leinster.

The game on Saturday was really tough to watch. We just had no answer to the skill, strength and speed of Clermont. I don’t think any of us expected that performance from the French. Especially after the Leinster performance the previous week in the Stade Michelin. We were on fire, confident and very intelligent in our play and we really should have won, but we were just too knackered to bring that to the home game..

But that really means nothing after Saturday. It even looks like a blip now. We have been lacklustre all season, not me being negative just telling the truth. We have been quite a bit off. I am sure you are annoyed with me constantly going on about it, but there really has to be a change that allows academy players more game time. Another point that came up during a conversation in Lansdowne on Saturday is that there is a fairly substantial gap between the age of the first team and the academy. The average age of the lads who started on Saturday was 27. The top academy players are in their late teens / early 20’s. This is a good thing, meaning we will have them coming through in a year or two, but we do not have anyone in the mid 20’s to bridge the gap. It just means we may have a couple of seasons like this one while they get experience. Especially considering that the AIL teams cannot play more than 2 contracted players in any league match.

We got out of jail last year when we brought in the mighty Brad Thorn on loan, seeing as we can’t do that this year we are being found out in our second row. It is a very weak area. Most other parts of the pitch are fine when we have our top players to come back. We are still very light in the second row. Leo played an absolute blinder away to Clermont. Maybe his best game in blue? When he is free of injury he is still great. But he is not getting any younger. There may not be that many miles left in the Cullen tank. With the physicality involved and the amount of time spent in the engine room along with surgeries, it is a miracle he is still so affective. Damian Browne started against the French, but just didn’t appear to fit in. Maybe it will take some time, but he didn’t seem to have the muscle and intensity needed. Devon Toner was brought on but again, he just wasn’t at the races. It is difficult with you are nearly 7 feet tall to get low into the tackle. He is still 6 foot 5 off the ground when he tries to tackle, but doesn’t have the muscle to bulldoze anyone.

So the question is, how do we fix this? Ruddock and Ryan have been starting ‘a’ games lately after injuries. They are both fearsome, intense players. If they can function in the lineout and scrum, which they have both done in the past, they can slip in beside Captain Cullen and bring more menace to the second row. Another option is to offload some of the misfiring players and bring someone in, preferably someone we can use in green as well as blue. People will be up in arms with this just as much as they were with the signing of Michael Bent.

All of this brings us to Friday against Ulster in Ravenhill. The team was named just as I started writing this week’s blog:

  1. Healy – Name on shirt, he scrums as well as he flings berocca

  2. Cronin – Deserves start played well against Clermont

  3. Bent – Should be starting more games, has been very effective in every game played so far..

  4. Cullen – Will be aiming to tear up Ulster

  5. Toner – For me, this is a wrong call. Not the best option at 5.

  6. McLaughlin – great to see him back, we missed him on Saturday

  7. The notorious S O’B – Nuff said, but I would put him at 8

  8. Heaslip – would switch to 7, but always should be on the pitch

  9. Redden – quick ball will be needed against Ulster

  10. Madigan – has played nearly every position this season. We need to pick ‘his’ position and give him game time there.

  11. Fergalicious – name printed on jersey, has been on fire since starting to tape his head.

  12. The Darce – Also been on fire lately. The Darcy haters have been quiet. Tackle machine!

  13. Macken – Games like this will build Macken and players like him.

  14. Conway – has been playing all over the place much like Madigan, needs ‘his’ position to gain confidence.

  15. Reid – Deserves a start.

This is a strong mix of experience and youth. Games like this will help the younger players going forward. I am worried about playing people in different positions every other game. Surely we should have a player in whatever position he is best in? This team is not affected by injuries, with player management and resting players this is fairly close to the team that would take the field even if we had the first team back.

But in closing, cheers to you all for taking the time to read my nonsense, and engage on twitter (@nkeegan) with comments/opinions/debate/abuse. Feel free to continue this over the Christmas season.

Happy Christmas to you and yours, even our Munster readers Winking smile .

Keego (@nkeegan): Newbie blogger, former professional wrestler, sometime attempted rugby player (@TheThirsty3rds), professional procrastinator and attempted musician with a fondness for long walks on the bar, tea and the couch. Opinionated Leinster fan and constant gardener.

Blog Archive