After being huddled round an iphone in his office for the live announcement, Keego gives his thoughts on the Irish team…
And here we go!.....
It is my favourite part of the year. The blue jersey has been taken off, folded and placed into the wardrobe and the long sleeved vintage green jersey is going to make its first appearance of the new season. I am very excited for these November games.
The team has just been announced, it was standing room only around my iphone in the office watching king Joe read out the squad. Very strong and very cheeky. Samoa would not have expected some of those named:
15. Kearney Rob
14. T Bowe
13. You know who
12. The power beard
9. Conor Murray
1. ooooh aaaahhhh Jack McGrath
3. Nearly as magic as mike Ross
4. Magic Mike McCarthy
5. The tower of power Devin Toner
6. P O’Mahony
7. Chris ‘Hanson’ Henry
8. Jamie Heaslip (captain)
A strong bench consisting of: Cronin, Healy, Fitzpatrick, O’Connell, O’Brien, Madigan, Kearney Dave.
I am happy with that team. There are leaders in the front row (Best, Ross), there are leaders in the midfield and back rows (Drico/Darce/HEaslip/O’Mahony) and there is Kearney and Bowe in the back row.
Whilst Heaslip is captain on the day, O’Connell is the captain of the squad. This is the correct call from the coach. The PO’C had been made to captain his country. Heaslip is the vice captain and the captain in waiting for when Paulie retires, he will learn a lot in these tests from the king of Munster.
Jack McGrath getting a start is a surprise, but is also a fair reward on his play so far this season in blue.
There are players who need to prove themselves again. Rory Best didn’t have his best season last year; nothing motivates a player more than proving how good they are. Best to be on form on Saturday is a must for the team. O’Mahony will be in destructive form trying to hang on to that jersey too. This all bodes well for the game against Samoa. Paddy Jackson was put in a horrible place under Declan Kidney (hopefully metaphorical), so it is up to him to run the show. The Eoin McLove look-alike has been on fire for Ulster, more of the same in the green jersey.
Samoa are big bad dudes who can tackle buses and pass with hands as delicate as a mother who has been using fairy liquid for decades (no one tell them I compared them to an Irish mammy). They improve every year and are above us in the world rankings the moment.
It is important we do the simple things right. Our set piece was a disaster during the 6 nations (I apologise for bringing that up), so we need to see the best from our leaders on the pitch. We need to be getting first blood in the scrum (metaphorical first blood). If we can push them back and have them worried in the first 15 minutes then we can pull the trigger on some sexy Joe rugby later in the game.
The game will have ups and downs; it is all about what we do when we are in our bad patch. Do we trust our system, do we trust each other and do we trust ourselves? All of this will be found out on Saturday. I am gagging for it!
In closing, before the feed was cut (or my iphone (come on apple, hook me up) melted) King Joe was speaking about losing control of Jonny Sexton. This is a huge point and something the IRFU must take into consideration when player’s contracts finish. In 2014 Paul O’Connell, Jamie Heaslip, Conor Murray, Sean O’Brien, Keith Earls, Donncha Ryan, Rory Best, Tom Court and Martin Moore’s contracts are up for renewal. Along with one contract winding up for good (sniff sniff, I promised myself I wouldn’t cry). The IRFU need to find a way of keeping these players here. Sexton has been involved in 12 games in 10 weeks. The lad is knackered. If we lost half of the above 12 to France, we would have a squad of ghosts taking to the pitch on Saturday. If the FAI can reach out to Dermot Desmond, why cant the IRFU go to McIlroy / Bono / Twink / any of the former banking CEO’s living in Florida to give them a hand to give players the € they deserve to stay. Otherwise we can do a whip round at the next Leinster v Munster match.
I am far too excited about the start of this series. I need to calm down, so I will watch the great Irish /British / American / Spanish/ Armenian bake off, or any program about houses. It is like taking a horse tranquiliser, but without the side effect of eating hay and urinating on the street.
See you all in Lansdowne rfc after the match for a pint.
As usual, debate/abuse/discuss the above with me on twitter @nkeegan and for more rugby genius head over to www.thedailyclothesline.com.
Until next week!
Keego (@nkeegan): 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.