New Zealand are not in transition
Despite the World Champions blooding four brand spanking new caps, they mix with the old experienced heads.
Sam Cane and Julian Savea may have been fast-tracked by injury, but there were no shortage of more experienced men in their way. Ireland, in every code, could take note.
South Africa at home is a must win
Ireland’s next fixture is on November 10 and back in the mixed bag that is the Aviva Stadium. Eddie O’Sullivan has said that he always felt under pressure from the powers that be to field an experienced side for all tests.
Declan Kidney will have no choice as he bids to provide a big performance to arrest a run of five defeats. The attendance of Ireland’s second ‘Autumn international’ against Argentina will depend on the result and performance against the Boks.
Kidney doesn’t know who to play at 12
Injuries dictated to him, but we have seen Keith Earls, Gordon D’Arcy and Paddy Wallace at inside centre in consecutive tests. We felt Wallace’s late-season form was good enough to see him through an All Black test. We were Wrong. Against Sonny Bill Williams in full flight, Wallace looked like a man still on the beach.
Earls is the exciting player in that position, but when he returned to fitness he was bizarrely shifted to the wing and Wallace, not even in the original tour selection, was given the nod ahead of his provincial teammate Darren Cave – who it appears was just taken down for the spin.
Sean O’Brien is a now a ‘seven’
Forget the third test for a moment. When Sean O’Brien broke on the scene with Leinster he was a barnstorming, ground-gobbling blind side flanker. Even when Stephen Ferris’ absence left a gaping hole of physicality we persisted with O’Brien at open side and ( he coped well enough against the great Richie McCaw.
Suddenly, there is some strength in depth
From now on, we needn’t consult a cardiac specialist if Paul O’Connell or Mike Ross go down injured. In Dan Tuohy, Donnacha Ryan and (for tight head) Declan Fitzpatrick we have players able to step up to take the full brunt of an international.
Unfortunately, the latter will be stuck behind John Afoa in big provincial games this season, but the two second rows have officially (unless Kidney pulls a Deccie special) stolen a march ahead of Donncha O’Callaghan.
The southern hemisphere is a cut above…
…but we did our half of the world absolutely no favours. Wales pushed Australia all the way in three tests, England deserved their draw when it came yesterday. It’s impossible to imagine either of those sides shipping as much pride and points as Ireland did. Our peers in the Six Nations have a coherent game-plan and, to a man, they buy into it.
Ireland have an incoherent game-plan which forces players to try and come up with a solution off the top of their heads.