Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Let The Schmidt Hit The Fan - Rd 7 (ULS)

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Since the start of the season four bloggers, one representing each province, have taken turns selecting their ideal Irish matchday 23.

This week our Ulster blogger Laura Johnston gives her selection - she wouldn’t leave BOD out would she? ;-)

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

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We are more than halfway through this year’s Six Nations and Ireland aren’t looking to shabby. Top of the table on points difference, two good wins against Scotland and Wales and a three point loss to England, when to be honest we didn’t play great.

Saturday’s game against Italy sees Brian O’Driscoll become the world’s most capped rugby player and also  it’s his final home game in a green shirt.

The game against Italy will be a tough one. Each year the Italians gets progressively better, due partly to their players regular involvement in the Rabo Pro 12 and Heineken Cup.

My Ireland team isn’t much different from the one Joe picked to face England. We lost yes but only by three points and it wasn’t our best performance, so why change a formula that works.

My front row is unchanged from my last blog and that selected to face England. Possibly the best players in each of the three positions in Ireland. Best’s throwing has improved a lot since last summer. Healy is a great ball carrier in the open and Ross is a superb scrummager

My replacements are also unchanged.

  1. Cian Healy

  2. Rory Best

  3. Mike Ross

16. Sean Cronin

17. Jack McGrath

18. Marty Moore.

Unfortunately Dan Tuohy broke his arm, a similar injury to the one Rory Best picked up against New Zealand in November, and we all hope Dan has a speedy recovery. Tuohy would have been one of my first choice locks along with Paul O’Connell, had he not been injured. Therefore the person I would pick to partner O’Connell is Devin Toner, who impressed me against England.

Iain Henderson is my replacement lock due to his versatility and strength at lock and flanker.

  1. Devin Toner

  2. Paul O’Connell

19. Ian Henderson

My back three is again unchanged, albeit if O’Mahony is fit. They have all impressed in many different ways over the last three games but particularly at the breakdown.

I am sticking with Tommy O’Donnell as my replacement as I think he deserves more game time in green.

  1. Peter O’Mahony

  2. Chris Henry

  3. Jamie Heaslip

20. Tommy O’Donnell

The half back partnership of Murray and Sexton works well together, even if against England Jonny was a little bit shaky at times, he is still the best fly half Ireland has.

My replacement half backs are Isaac Boss and Paddy Jackson. I have chosen Bossy as he loves a physical game which Italy will be. Paddy deserves a chance in green as he has been a key player in Ulster’s success in the group stages of the Heineken cup. Even Brian O’Driscoll agrees he deserves a chance.

  1. Conor Murray

  2. Jonny Sexton

21, Isaac Boss

22. Paddy Jackson.

I am sticking with Trimble and Dave Kearney as my wingers. They have both been impressive in the air and have made good yards with ball in hand. Tommy Bowe played his first 40 minutes for Ulster after injury on Friday against the Dragons, scoring two tries. In my opinion he needs more game time before I would consider calling him up to the Ireland set up.

Unfortunately Luke Marshall took a knock to the head playing for Ulster, so he will probably be out for a week or two as a precaution. Therefore Gordon D’arcy is the player who I think should partner Brian O’Driscoll on his last home game. And who better a person to do it. They are after all the most experienced centre partnership in world rugby. Rob Kearney is still the first person that comes to my mine when I hear ‘Ireland full-back’. He took his try well against England and is still very threating in attack.

My replacement back is Fergus McFadden, due to his physicality and versatility across the back line.

  1. Dave Kearney

  2. Gordon D’Arcy

  3. Brian O’Driscoll

  4. Andrew Trimble

  5. Rob Kearney.

23. Fergus McFadden.

Ireland team for Italy

  1. Cian Healy

  2. Rory Best

  3. Mike Ross

  4. Devin Toner

  5. Paul O’Connell

  6. Peter O’Mahony

  7. Chris Henry

  8. Jamie Heaslip

  9. Conor Murray

  10. Jonny Sexton

  11. Dave Kearney

  12. Gordon D’arcy

  13. Brian O’Driscoll

  14. Andrew Trimble

  15. Rob Kearney

  16. Sean Cronin

  17. Jack McGrath

  18. Marty Moore

  19. Iain Henderson

  20. Tommy O’Donnell

  21. Isaac Boss

  22. Paddy Jackson

  23. Fergus McFadden

@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 ON “LET THE SCHMIDT HIT THE FAN” - We begin our 7th round of selections and find out how our Connacht blogger sees the matchday 23 for Paris…


Taken by JLP from RDS press box on Nov 16, 2019