Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Let The Schmidt Hit The Fan - Rd 8 (MUN)

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

This week our Munster representative Kate McEvoy picks a side for the summer tour.

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

LTSHTF avatar

I hope we're all still feeling the warm, unifying glow that comes from basking in a 6 Nations victory. Probably not since the often less than illustrious airing of grievances that is a Leinster v Munster Rabo fixture is coming up unfortunately fast on the rails and is sure to dissipate any residual good vibes between the provinces. The process has already begun and lord, I hate this fixture so I'm going to move swiftly on, pray they don't meet at any stage in the Heineken Cup and concentrate on picking an as yet fairly abstract team for this summer's tour to Argentina.

As it stands, I'm focusing on developing younger players for contention in the RWC squad and experienced players returning from injury, while resting last year's Lions who, particularly as some will hopefully be involved in the business end of this season's European competitions, will have an extremely long, tough year. This almost goes without saying but this will change massively over the next 3 months. I may decide to slot in more senior players onto the bench, especially in the front row, depending how the season progresses. I'm fickle like that. Also, I'm still sticking to my policy of avoiding players with long term injury until they've returned to play (Sean O'Brien) for a decent amount of time (Stephen Ferris). Like I said, there'll be a lot of change. But sure, isn't it great to have options?

1. Jack McGrath – Probably the breakthrough of the season so far. Dynamic in the loose, strong in the ruck, dependable in the set piece, and still so young. Cian Healy is one of the world's best looseheads but his understudy ain't too shabby.

  1. Sean Cronin – This could be a make or break tour to see if Cronin can finally make the transition from spectacular, try scoring impact sub to starting hooker. His throwing has improved but he still seems incapable of striking the ball in the scrum. Former cardiac patient Richardt Strauss takes the bench spot hoping to add to his international cap tally.

  1. Marty Moore – I know Mike Ross is one of those players that needs a regular run around the park to keep the engine turning over but let's leave him at home this time out. Moore struggled in Paris, the first real set back we've seen but will hopefully be the stronger for the win under pressure and learned a lesson or two along the way.

  1. Devin Toner – Devin “most improved” Toner, once seen as a soft pick, is going to be hard to dislodge from the starting Ireland team. The giant from the clearly magical village of Moynalvey (see Mary-Louise Reilly) is on the plane.

  1. Donnacha Ryan – Often underrated, the Nenagh native seldom disappoints and is a competitive animal with a major point to prove. He's a great tourist & I'm looking forward to seeing him back in green. Dan Tuohy will be also be chomping at the bit after his latest international opportunity was cruelly cut short by a broken arm sustained on the pitch.

  1. Iain Henderson – Solid first test start, but somewhat less spectacular than those who have followed his career to date had hoped for, with some good cameos off the bench across the tournament. There seems to be a good chance Henderson's future may be at second row, particularly with a plethora of options in the back row, but for now, particularly as it looks like O'Connell has the world cup in his sights, I'm starting him at blindside. Rhys Ruddock offers good cover and an experienced pair of hands from the bench.

  1. Tommy O'Donnell – Somewhat unlucky not to feature more throughout the tournament, Tommy O'Donnell's season was a case of arrested development with a bad injury at the start of the season. Henry will prove difficult to dislodge after and excels as a jackal-type openside but O'Donnell is an exciting talent who offers something slightly different with more of an explosive edge.

  1. Jordi Murphy – The medal-losing bequiffed former Blackrock sports personality of the year is certainly good value on the social media front. It'll be a tough act to dislodge the bionic man Jamie Heaslip but I'd like to see his young counterpart get a chance to put his own stamp on the number 8 jersey.

  1. Conor Murray – Despite Eoin Reddan playing with a new lease of life this spring, Murray is Ireland's pre-eminent scrumhalf who's service seems to have improved after his Lions' tour under Rob Howley's tutelage. I think it's important for Murray to have a good working relationship with the young pretenders so J10's outhalf crown and there is certainly little point in bringing an overworked Jonny Sexton to sample the delights of South America. Also, this is a fairly callow squad at this point and Murray's leadership, particularly at provincial level has come on massively this season. Time to cap Marmion before the Welsh cast their eyes in his direction too.

  1. Paddy Jackson – Madigan did manage to cooly close things out in Paris, to my utmost relief but Jackson looked assured during his appearances and deserves a chance to demonstrate his improved game management. For me, although Madigan is certainly the more exciting player, he hasn't kicked on this season as much as I would like and the Ulsterman has done a better job at addressing the deficiencies in his game.

  1. Simon Zebo – Generating more ink than many players who actually featured in our tournament win, the Cork flyer has an abundance of natural talent but there are question marks over his work rate. This would be the ideal chance to address those worries. And, for the record, I don't think there's much wrong with his defence.

  1. Luke Marshall – Although D'arcy has made no mention of following his centre partner off into the sunset, the the beard removal has shaved years of his age, Bamm-Bamm starts at 12. Mind your head, Luke.

  1. Darren Cave – Time for Darren to put his money where his mouth is after his somewhat ill-advised pop at some of his potential Irish teammates. There seems to be a narrative than Henshaw is BOD's anointed successor but Cave is currently more the the finished article and forms a solid defensive pairing with his provincial counterpart. The first of 3 potential outside centres in the mix, and I'd certainly bring Keith Earls on tour too but I'm restricted numbers-wise here. Luke Fitzgerald, who scored two tries against Zebre without breaking anything or being struck by lightening offers cover from the bench and hopefully gets a chance to augment his outside centre autumn cameo.

  1. Tommy Bowe – Always considered a nailed on starter and certainly world class when in form but for me his international showings in autumn were below par, and, particularly given his injury struggles this season, needs game time to reassert his supremacy on the wing. Promising signs at provincial level bode well.

  1. Robbie Henshaw – Another potential heir apparent, also adding depth to a somewhat shallow pool at full back until Jared Payne qualifies in September. Oodles of potential, and I for one am happy to see he'll be realizing in at Connacht until 2016 at least.

  1. Jack McGrath

  2. Sean Cronin

  3. Marty Moore

  4. Devin Toner

  5. Donnacha Ryan

  6. Iain Henderson

  7. Tommy O'Donnell

  8. Jordi Murphy

  9. Conor Murray

  10. Paddy Jackson

  11. Simon Zebo

  12. Luke Marshall

  13. Darren Cave

  14. Tommy Bowe

  15. Robbie Henshaw

  1. Richardt Strauss

  2. Stephen Archer

  3. Dave Kilcoyne

  4. Dan Tuohy

  5. Rhys Ruddock

  6. Kieran Marmion

  7. Ian Madigan

  8. Luke Fitzgerald

Kate McEvoy : Munster fan in a sea of Leinster blue. Raised on a strict diet of Bective Rangers. Earliest childhood memory is stud marks in the muck. Former hooker for a father & a mother with an eye for a forward pass bordering on freakish . Best rugby memory, Toulouse main square, May 24, 2008. Epitaph will read “Knew a lot about rugby for a girl.” Can be found tweeting optimistically at @ImKateMc


NEXT WEEK ON LET THE SCHMIDT HIT THE FAN…

OUR ULSTER BLOGGER LAURA JOHNSTON GIVES HER POST-CHAMPIONSHIP SELECTION

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