Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Let The Schmidt Hit The Fan - Rd 2 (CON)

OK you’ve met all of our provincial Ireland selectors, now it’s time for them to make their second round based on what they’ve seen so far…

This week it’s Connachtman’s turn once more, click these links to find the most recent selections from Leinster, Munster & Ulster.

LTSHTF avatar

So two weeks in to the season and based on what we’ve seen from the Pro12 basically everybody is dropped from my previous team because none of them have shown the remotest hint of good form!

Ok, that’s not really going to happen is it? I’m not going to drop Paul O’Connell for Ian ‘Wallaby killer’ Nagle or Brian O’Driscoll for Brendan ‘Ryle Nugent’ Macken am I?!

So I drew the short straw and it turns out that not many front liners have returned to action and so there’s not really much to talk about. Munster have proved they have the greatest squad depth this year, and could win the league with it! Leinster have shown glimpses of their continuity machine in action but have lacked an experienced backbone. Meanwhile Ulster’s lack of depth has been shown up and they will be rightly worried about what they can do this season. My beloved Connacht have shown some promise, but the Cardiff performance was all too close to what we’ve seen in past seasons to be reassuring.

So what to do? Well, first off, I’ve decided to leave the match day squad mostly unchanged. Jamie Hagan is going to be replaced by Declan Fitzpatrick, for the simple reason that Hagan has yet to turn out for London Irish! Everyone else just about retains their spot, even those no-shows who haven’t got international reputations. What’s the point! Anyways, here it is:

Ireland Team
1: Cian Healy
2: Rory Best
3: Mike Ross
4: Donnacha Ryan
5: Paul O’Connell
6: Peter O’Mahony
7: Sean O’Brien
8: Jamie Heaslip
9: Conor Murray
10: Jonny Sexton
11: Simon Zebo
12: Stuart Olding
13: Brian O’Driscoll
14: Craig Gilroy
15: Rob Kearney
Replacements:
16: Mike Sherry
17: Dave Kilcoyne
18: Declan Fitzpatrick
19: Ian Henderson
20: Chris Henry
21: Eoin Reddan
22: Ian Madigan
23: Fergus McFadden

What I have decided to do for this week is select a XV of players to watch out for this year. Players who have an outside chance of playing their way into the squad based on good form and a few choice injuries. I’ve tried to select a young squad so that maybe people might find out about a player they weren’t already aware of. Anyways, here goes!

Loosehead Prop: Jack McGrath
This dude looks like the real deal, and has done since underage level. He’s had a good turn out so far with a MOTM display in the drawn Ospreys game. He may have been punished in the scrum by Adam Jones towards the end but he carried extremely well round the park and got a very important try as well. Leinster will miss Heinke van der Merwe, but maybe not as much as they might have!

Elsewhere, young James Cronin looks a good player, scoring a try in his first competitive start against Edinburgh in Round 1. #Beasht

Hooker: Mike Sherry
As there aren’t really any young hookers coming through whom you won’t have heard of, I’ve gone for last season’s breakthrough, Mike Sherry. The guy has all the physical attributes, is uber competitive, and seems to have a head on his shoulders too. A leader for the future, he has an opportunity to step up and grab a chance with Ireland this year.

Richardt Strauss will have something to say about this, is Cronin now going to be forgotten, what’s the story with Herring up North, and is Jason Harris-Wright just too small? All this and more, etc etc.

There are some good young hookers knocking around mind, Niall Annett at Ulster, Niall Scannell at Munster and James Rael at Connacht.

Tighthead Prop: Martin Moore
Going for a guy some of you won’t have heard of, has looked really solid for Leinster so far this season. Made a difference around the park when he came on for Ross at the weekend, looks to have the right body shape and should improve with a little help. One for the future maybe?

Other than that we’ve got the usual candidates from last year, we have to hope we see an improvement in Stephen Archer and hope that John Ryan can get some game time too. Also looking forward to seeing Ricky Lutton lineout for the Ulstermen!

Lock Forward: Lewis Stevenson and Dave Foley
This partnership is purely built around balance you understand? That is, balancing a really interesting name with a rather boring one. Right so Stevenson may be 29 but if you’re looking for a tighthead lock in their prime then you’re gonna need a few years on the clock! He impressed in the tight last season and should be monitored for progress. Foley is very highly regarded down South and may make the HC squad for Munster. He was very unlucky with injury last season and gets in ahead of Nagle because... well, we’ve never seen anything good from Nagle since the famous rainy defeat of Australia, when was that again... Anyway, here’s hoping he gets back from this little niggle he has and strings some form together!

Back Row: Dave O’Callaghan, Tommy O’Donnell, Jordi Murphy
DOC Mark II looks like a bit of a beasht! Athletic, aggressive and a good ball carrier. As previously stated, we could use a tall rangy loose forward and he certainly has promise! At 7 I’ve gone for last season’s standout performer in the league in Tommy O’Donnell, and he needs no introduction really. Has an opportunity to really push on this season and stake a claim! At the base of the scrum I’ve gone for Jordi Murphy, who’s been really strong so far this season, with a great showing against the Ospreys. Peter O’Mahony may have shown himself to be the first choice cover for Heaslip, but after that there aren’t really too many options. Watch this space...

Elsewhere, if it’s versatility you want then look no further than Dominic Ryan and Paddy Butler, both players who need to put marker’s down if they are to force their way into contention at their respective provinces.

Scrum Half: Kieran Marmion
No real arguments here, the guy has shown promise all the way up, and when thrust into the Connacht starting jersey he has showed real ability and composure for such a young man.
Behind him we have Luke McGrath at Leinster, who’s just a real livewire with no little amount of skill, and Cathal Sheridan at Munster who looks to have a far more rounded game than the much-maligned Duncan Williams who he’s destined to displace sometime this season.

Out Half: JJ Hanrahan
The double Jesus looks to finally get his chance this season, and should be starting, according to some of the Munster faithful. In fairness, the guy has it all. He can kick and pass, ran a very good game back with the Ireland U20’s. He also runs very good lines, something which he’s developed from his time spent at first centre.

Elsewhere, Jack Carty is a handy prospect at Connacht and keep an eye out for James McKinney back at Ulster.

Centre: Stuart Olding and Eoin Griffin
I’ve already selected Olding in my matchday proper and the only reason I’ve included him here is his age and the fact that it has to be acknowledged that he needs some good form to see this prediction through.

Eoin Griffin has been in handy form for Connacht so far this season. He’s a real leader now in a young backline, he’s bulked up considerably over the summer, and he reads the game very well. He’s been forced to move into 12 recently because of injuries to others and hasn’t missed a step, despite being considered an out-and-out 13 prior to this.

Elsewhere we want to see Ulster give Chris Farrell away so he can play some rugby! Seriously though, I hope he gets to play at some point because he’s a big guy who can play the ball! Other than that, let’s hope Dave McSharry comes back from injury well and gets back to where he was at the start of last season. I’m a fan of Ivan Dineen at Munster, we’ll have to see if he gets a chance, while Cian Bohane is coming up behind him with promise. And Brendan Macken has actually been good you know...

Wings: Matt Healy and Luke O’Dea
Healy has been unfortunate with injury in the past but is rated very highly and has had a really good start to the season. He’s got pace and power, a good all-round skill set and is by all accounts a good professional. Here’s hopin’ he stays fit! On the other wing I’ve gone for Luke O’Dea based on his strong showing last season. He’s got real pace, is quite skilful and can cover fullback as far as I know.

Elsewhere, I’ve been impressed by Michael Allen at times, while for guys like Tiernan O’Halloran and Andrew Conway we need to see them push on.

Fullback: Robbie Henshaw
Shouldn’t need an introduction, and has already been capped, but everyone will be watching him with hope and expectation this year. From what I’ve seen, the guy is just so physically assured at the back that it’s hard to see if he’s really been tested yet. I would like to see him show some more creativity from the back this year, and I would also like to see him be really tested and come out a better player because this guy can go all the way.

Elsewhere... let’s see what winger displays the right skill set.

To clarify, here’s the ‘Future XV’ in full:

1: Jack McGrath
2: Mike Sherry
3: Martin Moore
4: Lewis Stevenson
5: Dave Foley
6: Dave O’Callaghan
7: Tommy O’Donnell
8: Jordi Murphy
9: Kieran Marmion
10: JJ Hanrahan
11: Matt Healy
12: Stuart Olding
13: Eoin Griffin
14: Luke O’Dea
15: Robbie Henshaw
Replacements:
16: Niall Annett
17: James Cronin
18: John Ryan/Ricky Lutton
19: Ian Nagle
20: Paddy Butler
21: Luke McGrath
22: Chris Farrell
23: Michael Allen

Connachtman [@connachtman87] - sometime blogger, long time reader, avid supporter of Connacht rugby against all odds and in any weather.


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Next week we go back to our Leinster selector.
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