Saturday, March 07, 2015

Ireland must deliver


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So here we are. Three rounds in, two to go, Ireland on top and the Grand Slam within reach should the boys in green hold their nerve for the final two games of the 2015 RBS Six Nations.

Over the autumn I wrote a piece saying how Joe Schmidt had truly revolutionised Irish Rugby in a way that no one else has done before. Unlocked the potential of the key talent, gave them a platform and watched them blossom. Here we sit in March and it’s still working. Last weekend’s win over England was not only brilliant to watch, but outlined just hard Ireland have worked to get to where they are now. Not to mention that fact that Johnny Sexton is now without a doubt the world number one out half and Ireland’s kicking game is second to none.

Forgive me for getting excited, but with the Rugby World Cup beckoning towards the end of the year, you have to say, Ireland are contenders. Why do you ask? Well as an Englishman, let me tell you, the media always have England down as potential champions and perhaps this time rightly so? No one saw them making the final in 2007, but this year is different, Lancaster has a well oiled unit, however in my opinion he still doesn't know his final team. But the fact lies herein. Ireland beat England. Comfortably. In fact, you could say with consummate ease, as the visiting side didn't even amount any sort of real pressure until the final twenty minutes of the game. Not to mention last year’s Autumn Tests. Wins over South Africa and Australia. It clearly highlights that Ireland are the top Northern Hemisphere nation. No question. Ten consecutive test wins.

But now is the real challenge. Beat Wales and it could well be a foregone conclusion come the final round of the tournament. The first Grand Slam under Schmidt? Six Nations champions… well, back to back Six Nations champions. But it must be said, Ireland must kept key players fit. The strength in depth is there, but we all know too well just how many faces having been missing from key games and sometimes that's the difference between glory or massive failure.

We look back on the greats, O’Gara, O’Driscoll, Jack Kyle, Keith Wood with fond memories. But now it’s the time for our generation to deliver, McGrath, Henshaw, Payne, Madigan. It’s time to finally shun that tag once and for all of gallant losers. By the end of the month we will know just how far Ireland have really came… the countdown begins.

Kristian. 20. Geordie. Fond of Wasps, Falcons and Ulster. @Kristian7Ross

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