Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Let The Schmidt Hit The Fan - Rd 5 (ULS)


Bringing our 5th round of Ireland selections to an end we have our Ulster blogger Laura Johnston…

Click this link for her last selection and these for the latest from Munster, Leinster & Connacht.

Remember…the general rule is to select a team based on current fitness for a test match to be played the following weekend.  The contributors are allowed some leeway however, since it’s all to get debate going.  Once it’s friendly debate of course! JLP

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The first rugby blog of 2014. I wonder what sort of year it will be for Irish rugby.

The month of January could play a big part, in how successful the first half of the New Year will be for the Irish provinces. Over the Christmas period, we saw some good old Irish inter-pro rivalry.

This weekend however sees the start of rounds 5 & 6 of the Heineken cup. Big games for all four provinces. Wouldn’t it be great if we get 3 out of four qualified? It would be amazing If Connacht can sneak through too. Hopefully they all come away with wins and no injuries, so we can go into the six nations with the best team as possible
  1. Jack McGrath :- Unfortunately for Cian Healy he picked up a nasty ankle injury and will more than likely miss the start of the six nations, if not all of it. I think McGrath is the right person to fill his boots. He has played well for Leinster recently and silenced his critics (including me) during the Autumn internationals when he was picked over Court and Kilcoyne.
17. The number 17 shirt could be filled by a few people, Court, Kilcoyne, Black or Moore. I would give David Kilcoyne the shirt as he is young and will probably make the next RWC team, and all the experience he can get in a green shirt will do him no harm.
  1. Sean Cronin: - Unfortunately Rory Best is injured, although he may be fit in time for Ulster’s game against Montpellier this weekend. But until he returns Sean Cronin is my starting hooker, for his experience and pace with ball in hand.
16. My replacement hooker would probably have been Damien Varley, but having seen him after the game on Friday night on crutches and in quite a bit of discomfort, I am afraid he will be out for a few weeks. Therefore my replacement hooker is Mike Sherry. Although Rob Herring is certainly filling Bests position well at Ulster at the moment.
  1. Mike Ross: - Mike hasn’t performed the greatest recently, but I don’t see anyone stealing the starting jersey off him, when he is fit. Although Marty Moore, Declan Fitzpatrick and Stephen Archer are all currently performing well, for their provinces at the moment.
18. My replacement tight head prop is Declan Fitzpatrick.
  1. Paul O’Connell
  2. Dan Tuohy: - The two locks in Ireland for me at the minute. Both are excellent ball carriers and commanders of the lineout. They had a good tussle at Ravenhill on Friday night.
19. Iain Henderson for his versatility at lock and backrow.
  1. Peter O’Mahony:- For me it was between Peter and Robbie Diack. Both are playing outstandingly for their provinces. I have picked POM because I think he will more than likely get picked and desirably so. Robbie has been outstanding for Ulster recently and is now Irish qualified. An Ireland cap could be round the corner for him at some point.
  2. Chris Henry: - Seven this year has been between Sean O’Brien and Chris Henry. Unfortunately Henry got injured in the Autumn internationals, so SOB was the first choice and now SOB is injured, Henry is first choice and will hopefully start at 7 in the 6 nations.
  1. Jamie Heaslip: - Heaslip and Wilson are the best no 8’s at the moment. Roger has been preforming well for Ulster as has Heaslip for Leinster. I have picked Jamie at 8 for his experience and he is the more likely of the two to pull on the green no 8.
20. The replacement backrow for me Is Kevin McLaughlin
  1. Eoin Reddan: - Conor Murray is injured at the moment, although he will hopefully be back in the next few weeks for Munster. I have picked Reddan for his experience and Kieran Marmion as his replacement as he is an up and coming Ireland star in my opinion
21. Kieran Marmion
  1. Jonny Sexton: - Still Irelands first choice 10 when fit, he is a lion after all. His journey with Racing Metro hasn’t been a huge success so far, and his hectic playing schedule doesn’t help matters either when it comes to Ireland. But he is still Irelands No1 fly half.
22. The best kicker at the moment in Ireland according to the stats is JJ Hanrahan. He is the rising star at both 10 and 12. Although I think Jackson and Madigan are better replacements for Sexton at the moment, just for their experience. Jackson is my replacement fly half on the grounds that he has played more game time at 10 than Madigan recently.
  1. Luke Fitzgerald: - When fit my starting wings would be, Zebo and Bowe but they are both injured at the moment. Luke has shown form of late similar to the form he had in 2009, that got him on the Lions tour. Hopefully he can stay injury free, and play a good few games for Leinster this season.
  1. Luke Marshall: - Gordon Darcy has performed well at 12 recently Leinster. I see Luke Marshall as the future at 12 for Ireland, the more game time as he can get at 12 for Ireland the better for him. I hope he manages to stay injury and concussion free.
  1. Brian O’Driscoll:- He is still an amazing player even if he is getting more injury prone with age. Darren Cave has shown recently why he could be a good replacement at 13, as have Jared Payne and Robbie Henshaw. I will stick with the master for just a little bit longer.
  1. Craig Gilroy: - It was a tough decision between Gilroy and Kearney. I have gone for Gilroy, because of his pace and his ability to break the first tackle.
23. Dave Kearney
  1. Rob Kearney: - A safe pair of hands for Ireland at the back, the 15 shirt is safely his, although Robbie Henshaw and Jared Payne could challenge him next season for it.
My Ireland 15.
  1. Jack McGrath
  2. Sean Cronin
  3. Mike Ross
  4. Paul O’Connell
  5. Dan Tuohy
  6. Peter O’Mahony
  7. Chris Henry
  8. Jamie Heaslip
  9. Eoin Reddan
  10. Jonny Sexton
  11. Luke Fitzgerald
  12. Luke Marshall
  13. Brian O’Driscoll
  14. Craig Gilroy
  15. Rob Kearney
  1. Mike Sherry
  2. David Kilcoyne
  3. Declan Fitzpatrick
  4. Iain Henderson
  5. Kevin McLaughlin
  6. Kieran Marmion
  7. Paddy Jackson
  8. Dave Kearney
@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

NEXT WEEK … WITH JOE SCHMIDT’S SIX NATIONS DEBUT GETTING CLOSER OUR PROVINCIAL BLOGGERS KICKOFF THEIR SIXTH ROUND OF SELECTIONS AS WE HEAR ONCE MORE FROM @CONNACHTMAN87!











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