I gave it a week before writing this article because I wanted to reflect on the squad. Now that I have, here are some of my concerns. Devin Toner is a massive loss. It’s one decision I really can’t get my head around, and if it was anybody else but Schmidt I’d call it out as wrong. It’s not necessarily an issue with Kleyns selection, the powerful South African will add to the team, it’s just the fact he looks set to play a secondary roll. Toners been an ever-present for Ireland under Schmidt and with good reason. He’s a near guaranteed lineout winner. That’s an issue we could face, Cronin is a great impact sub but his lineout throwing is lacking, having Toner to bring on alongside Cronin goes a long way to solving that malfunction. Cronin would just have to aim for the lighthouse. We know Ryan starts, and it’ll now likely be Henderson beside him, but Toner would give us better options. There seemed to be a question of his mobility, which is odd because that’s never been his strong point. He’s always been one for the lineout and disrupting the breakdown. Missing Toner means the lineouts weakened and we are missing a key figure in slowing down opposition ball. Marmion being omitted is one I was surprised at. He has been Schmidts preferred number 2 scrumhalf for a while now, and this is an odd time to change things. Marmion has done nothing wrong. He’s had to step in at times to play on the wing in big games, like a recent test against Australia. He knows the game plan, and don’t forget it wasn’t long ago some were calling for him to take Murrays place (not that I think Murray has done enough to deny him self a start). Marmion can feel hard done by. Then there’s the versatility backs. Ringrose and Carbery are set to cover a few positions each. A job that could have been done by Addison and Cooney. Fullback is a position that Ireland lack depth, if Kearney gets injured Ireland are in trouble. Larmour is deadly in attack, but he’s not there defensively yet, he’s better placed on the wing. Carbery is solid but he is the 2nd choice flyhalf, the way Sexton is targeted he can’t be expected to cover both positions. I’m surprised Addison wasn’t brought over Larmour or Farrell. He’s a true utility back, which is so valuable for the pool games if somebody has a knock. Cooney also would have been a good shout if they were looking to have somebody cover both flyhalf and scrumhalf. As I said earlier, if anybody but Schmidt named the squad I’d have strong doubts. He doesn’t do much wrong, but in a tournament that is often decided by such small margins, any little thing could be costly.
Ciarán is the Producer and Presenter of Post to Post Sport (@PostToPostSport), a sports podcast that covers rugby, football, wrestling, and Irish Sport News. You can get their podcasts on MixCloud our Spotify (Search PostToPostSport) and PlayerFM (Post to Post Sport).