Tuesday, October 08, 2013

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

It’s time to hear from our Ulster blogger to see how her Ireland selection has changed over the last 4 weeks…

Click these links to find the most recent selections from Connacht, Leinster & Munster.

LTSHTF avatar

It’s October and we have now completed the first 5 rounds of the Rabo Pro 12 season. That included two Irish derbies and a not so good start for Ulster, losing two games in a row. But they have now bounced back with three very good wins.

The Heineken cup is just around the corner, literally days away (can u tell I’m excited?), so we will see which potential Ireland players, will put their hands up for selection, over the next two weeks on a much bigger stage.

  1. Cian Healy – It is good to see him back from the injury that cut short his Lions tour. He has made a good start on his return, scrummaging well and playing well in the open. I still don’t see anyone taking the No 1 green shirt away from him just yet, but a few guys are starting to show their potential.

The No 17 shirt for me goes to David Kilcoyne. He has really impressed me over the last few weeks, especially in the Irish derby against Leinster where he was up against the starting tight head prop for Ireland Mike Ross.

  1. Rory Best – I know he got a bit of stick about his throwing last season , but this year since his return to a white shirt against Treviso, he has really impressed me. His line out throwing was very accurate against the Ospreys, better even than Lions teammate Richard Hibbard. He is getting back to the Rory I know and love.

The No 16 shirt for me is Sean Cronin, though hopefully poor Richardt Strauss will make a speedy recovery from his surgery.

  1. Mike Ross - A few young tight heads have come on the radar over the last few weeks (i.e. Archer, Lutton, Fitzpatrick), but I still haven’t seen anyone yet, who is good enough to take the no 3 shirt off Mike.

The No 18 shirt for me is Stephen Archer. Like David Kilcoyne he impressed me during the Munster/Leinster derby. He stood his ground well, against Lions prop Healy.

  1. Paul O’Connell – Still as good as ever, and showed it at the weekend in the Irish Derby.

  1. Donnacha Ryan – Worked well with POC at the weekend, and has played consistently well over the last few weeks.

The No 19 shirt for me is Iain Henderson. He is starting to develop well in the lock position for Ulster (although I personally like him at no6). His versatility at lock and back row means he is a very valuable player to have on the bench.

The Back row for me is a tricky one; there are so many different combinations you could pick. It is a nice headache for Schmidt to have. I am sticking with the same back row as the last time, simply because I think it would work well.

  1. Sean O’Brien – He is versatile and can play across the backrow, so I have put him at 6 to accommodate Chris Henry at 7. He is a beast of a guy (he isn’t called the “Tullow Tank” for nothing) and I think he would play well at 6.

  1. Chris Henry – Like SOB he is versatile and can play across the backrow. In my opinion he is a more natural no 7 than SOB, and currently is playing just that little bit better.

If I am honest the versatility of these two guys, means that Schmidt could play them both in either shirt, but this is my selection for the moment.

  1. Jamie Heaslip – He is back playing in blue and seems to be back to his usual self. I don’t see him losing the no 8 shirt just yet .Although Roger Wilson has impressed me, since his return from injury, and it’s a shame that he never got another call up, to add to his 1 cap, while playing in England for the Northampton Saints.

The no 20 shirt for me is Peter O’Mahony. He is playing well for Munster, although I would like to see him calm his temper down a bit. If he loses his cool, at a crucial point in a game, he could cost us valuable points.

  1. Conor Murray – It was good to see him pull on the red shirt for the first time this season against Leinster. He made a good impact off the bench, and he seems to be the same Conor that played in the third test against Australia.

Who gets the No 21 shirt is a tricky one. There are so many talented scrum halves in Ireland at the moment, anyone of them could get it: Reddan, Marshall, Boss, Heaney, Porter, Marmion, Williams etc. Heaney, Marmion and Williams should get Ireland caps, sometime in the near future.

I am going to give the no 21 shirt, to Eoin Reddan. It is good to see him back playing after that nasty leg break. I have picked Eoin over the others simply for experience reasons, all the rest have been very impressive over the last few weeks, but on an international stage you need someone, with a little bit more experience.

  1. Jonny Sexton - In my opinion he is still Irelands first choice kicker/no 10, Although Madigan, Jackson, Keatley and Hanrahan , are slowly but surely improving with each game they play.

The no 22 shirt / replacement fly half for me is Paddy Jackson. Simply because he is the highest placed Irish leading points scorer and marksman in the Rabo. Although in fairness to Madigan, for a few games he wasn’t kicking with Jimmy Gopperth on the pitch. If Jackson kicks the way he did against the Ospreys I can see him getting the no 22 shirts, but he does need to improve his consistency a little.

  1. Simon Zebo - Although he hasn’t scored any tries yet in the Rabo, he is getting back to his usual self and tries will come in due course. I think he is a good asset to have in your starting line-up simply for his speed and creativity.

  1. Luke Marshall - Seems to have gotten over the head injury that kept him out for a lengthy period. Back to running cracking lines and gaining a lot of ground with ball in hand. Possibly best 12 in Ireland at the moment.

  1. Brian O’Driscoll – Still think the only way someone will take the no 13 shirt off him, is through injury or his retirement. Robbie Henshaw impressed me at 13 against Ulster in Galway and Ulster seem to have been asked to try Jared Payne at 13. Possibly Payne is being eyed as the heir to O’Driscoll’s 13 shirt, when he becomes Irish qualified at the end of this season.

  1. Tommy Bowe - When he is fit, which he is at the moment bar a dead leg, I can’t see him not starting.

Michael Allen has impressed me over the last few games, and he is one of the top try scorers at the moment in the Rabo. He does need a bit more experience in white i.e. HC and more Rabo games before an Ireland cap is even considered.

  1. Rob Kearney – Like a few of the other senior players the 15 shirt is his unless he is injured.

With Payne currently being played at 13 for Ulster, Craig Gilroy is being tried out at 15, and so far he has done well. Felix Jones is also another possible option at 15.

The No 23 shirt for me goes to Rob Henshaw as he is versatile and can play centre and

fullback. Although a few people like Gilroy, Jones etc might get the shirt as well.

My Ireland 15

  1. Cian Healy

  2. Rory Best

  3. Mike Ross

  4. Paul O’Connell

  5. Donnacha Ryan

  6. Sean O’Brien

  7. Chris Henry

  8. Jamie Heaslip

  9. Conor Murray

  10. Jonny Sexton

  11. Simon Zebo

  12. Luke Marshall

  13. Brian O’Driscoll

  14. Tommy Bowe

  15. Rob Kearney

  1. Sean Cronin

  2. David Kilcoyne

  3. Stephen Archer

  4. Iain Henderson

  5. Peter O’Mahony

  6. Eoin Reddan

  7. Paddy Jackson

  8. Robbie Henshaw

@LauraJ2803 is a Ulster rugby season ticket holder and has been for the past 7 years, she has been there through the highs and the lows and is hoping there are plenty more highs to come.

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