Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Let The Schmidt Hit The Fan - Rd 9 (MUN)

Since the start of the season four bloggers, one representing each province, have taken turns selecting their ideal Irish matchday 23 for a test match to take place the following weekend (so current injury status must be taken into account).

This week it’s the turn of Munster fan Kate McEvoy to look ahead for the Six Nations champions.

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

LTSHTF avatar

So since we last spoke (if you're lucky) focus shifted away from the afterglow of our glorious 6 Nations triumph and back to the oft-described “business end” of Europe's last Heineken Cup. Ulster struggled manfully to almost overcome the most nightmarish of starts against Saracens but to no avail. Munster pulled together a strong team performance to put Toulouse to the sword as the competition's most decorated team also appeared to be on their last legs. Finally Leinster, despite an initial spirited scramble defense, were overwhelmed by a frankly scary looking Toulon, who now await the remaining Irish side in the competition in Sunday's Marseille semi final.

Given my nerves are going to steadily ratchet up to unbearable levels by this weekend, this is possibly the last possible moment I can focus on the bigger picture, which is still looking ahead to the summer tour. There's not a whole lot of movement from last month's selection. I still believe that, despite Cian Healy's protestations to the contrary, that this summer tour needs to be about taking youth on the road, both to make sure we've depth coming into the world cup year but also because it's been a very long season. In fact it's pretty much been two seasons run into one and senior players seem in need of a rest, particularly in within Leinster, who provided the bulk of the Irish squad

Having said that there were multiple reasons for that, not least the plethora of young talent on show in the RDS. Remember when we closed out a one score game in Paris to win the 6 Nations? With Leinster's second choice front row? Good times. Not nerve-racking in the slightest. Pack your bags lads, you're off to Argentina.

  1. Jack McGrath

  2. Sean Cronin

  3. Marty Moore

I have concerns about the lineout permutations with this one but I'd be happy to bring to engine room animals with a point to prove and gas in the tank on tour. Toner's stock was at an all-time high post 6 Nations but he's looked a bit worn out since so he's dropped to the bench.

  1. Dan Tuohy

  2. Donnacha Ryan

Tommy O'Donnell will have to play the game of his career so far to keep a lid on Toulon at the breakdown on Sunday but he currently starts at openside as I keep everything crossed. Jordi bagged the opening try in Good Friday's rout of Treviso and looks the the biggest challenge to Heaslip's dominance at number 8 in both the blue and green jersey thus far. Henderson was competent but not spectacular in his 6 Nations appearances but deserves a more prolonged period in the shirt in which to make an impact.

  1. Iain Henderson

  2. Tommy O'Donnell

  3. Jordi Murphy

The great Madigan debate is not going anywhere but as it stands he remains on the bench with his Ulster counterpart starting. Besides, apparently Conor Murray is the great white hope at outhalf so sure, we might just leave him at home altogether.

  1. Conor Murray

  2. Paddy Jackson

I was very impressed with the workrate of the Munster wingers in the quarter final, particularly in regards to their defense and at rucktime. It looks like the gospel of Joe is spreading. Zebo keeps his starting place, partnered by the newly-engaged Tommy Bowe i(Mazel Tov!) in the other wing berth. Earls replaces Fitzgerald on the bench given, despite the constant reports he's training, another week went by without Luke gracing the pitch. Ulster's centre partnership is kept intact for the South America trip, with yet another 13 option, hot property Robbie Henshaw, at fullback. He's signed to Connacht till 2016 so if we could shelve the transfer talk that would be delightful

  1. Simon Zebo

  2. Luke Marshall

  3. Darren Cave

  4. Tommy Bowe

  5. Robbie Henshaw

The bench is as discussed above plus medical miracle Richardt Strauss joins Munster's two members of the front row union, together with the dependable but still surprisingly young Ruddock and Connacht's needs to be capped petit général. And on that note, back to the march on Marseille…

  1. Richardt Strauss

  2. Stephen Archer

  3. Dave Kilcoyne

  4. Devin Toner

  5. Rhys Ruddock

  6. Kieran Marmion

  7. Ian Madigan

  8. Keith Earls

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 LATEST SELECTION

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