I hope because it's European weekend we can put aside any lingering inter-provincial bitchiness and get behind all four provinces.
Great win by Munster yesterday, feel like Carbery is putting on a good show to try nail down that 2nd ten position, and to try be number 1 after the World Cup (Don't see much changing unless there's an injury before hand). That sets up for a big performance from Ross Byrne.
Remember when Contepomi went off in the Heineken cup and some fella came on for him? Leinster went on to win that season, I'm confident Byrne can step up. It does show what a loss Isa and McFadden are looking at the fact we lack somebody particularly confident with place kicks if Byrne goes off. I expect a big performance from C O’Brien off the bench. Don't think he'll crack into the World Cup squad, could feature in the squad for the Italy game or a world Cup warm up, but the likes of Henshaw, Ringrose, and Aki are unlikely to be displaced, with Farrell and Addison behind them. Still there is life after the World Cup, and it's important the starters are pushed all the way. And we never know, last year against Wales Furlong was out, Porter had to step up, which he did sublimely. There will always be injuries in rugby, and everybody needs to be ready to take their chance.
Leinster are missing a lot. But for the last two seasons we’ve heard about this great strength in depth, now is the time to show it. Most of the losses come on the bench, but Irish teams seem to be better when they are up against it. I remember watching the national side a few years ago, during Schmidts reign, against Australia. Players were going down everywhere, but the next one kept stepping up. Reddan ended up playing in the centre. Ireland have one big games with a second choice scrum half on the wing. Remember last year against England? Larmour, a fullback inexperienced at international level, ended up in the centre. There’s an attitude in the Irish camp that has spread to the provinces. One of losing not being an option. We have to hope that that attitude comes out strong today. Big day for Noel Reid as well. He’s likely to leave, nows a chance to show what Leinster and Ireland will miss. Personally I don’t think he should go yet, with a World Cup coming up rotation is inevitable, another season could see him in Ireland contention.
Toulouse are a great team. So are Leinster. Last season Leinster were the greatest team. This isn’t a crisis, it’s an opportunity.
Ulster too have a massive task at hand. They welcome the team that could well have won the tournament last season, and are one of the favourites to do so this season. Again, an Irish side with their backs against the wall. They won’t roll over, they won’t go down without a fight, that is, if they go down at all.
Connacht have a chance to go top of their challenge cup pool, and are not to be forgotten in this. They should have, by all rights, beaten Leinster, probably a third side but Leinster nonetheless, in the RDS. Now they bring Sale to their fortress. Connacht have a big opportunity to push on in the Challenge Cup, and are on the verge of qualifying for the Champions Cup through the league.
#COYBIB #SUAF #SUFTUM #STRONGERINGREEN, whatever you’re hashtagging, get behind all four provinces. Munster have set us up for a great weekend for Ireland with the Six Nations looming and a World Cup on the horizon.
This weekends a big challenge, so is a back to back grandslam and a World Cup. Let’s do it.
Ciarán Duffy (@TheVoiceDepth) is a Leinster supporter and self-proclaimed ‘big cheese’ of Post To Post (@PostToPostSport). He’ll write about anything rugby under the condition he gets to take it too seriously.
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