Six Nations Thoughts – Ireland

20 01 2010

With the 6 Nations due to start in 2 weeks time we thought we would have a look at the various sides over the coming days and take a guess at how each country will fare. With our track record at this sort of thing being dreadful it is important not to put too much store by what we have to say….

Ireland

Tough gig for Ireland in Paris?

Grand Slam champions Ireland yesterday announced their squad for the 6 Nations championship due to begin on the 6th February. Whilst, like France and England they are suffering from some injuries in key positions (Fitzgerald and Leamy), it is notable how much strength in depth they have developed over the past 2 or 3 years in particular.

The one glaring problem is their well documented issues of finding a tight head prop to replace the veteran John Hayes. In the Autumn Internationals just gone, Hayes was clearly struggling and went backwards at scrum time in all three games including the matches against Australia and Samoa. Granted Australia’s scrum has improved beyond recognition from the insipid efforts of the recent past, but to not hold your own in this department is still reprehensible. Due to the change in reffing styles and rules like substitutions being introduced, the scrum has not become the deciding factor it once was in a rugby match. Indeed, Ireland themselves showed what was possible by beating South Africa in November despite being behind a scrum that retreated 5 yards each time they packed down. It is still important though and no side can ever be assured of their win if they are losing the set pieces. By the next world cup Hayes will be 38 so it is imperative somebody raises their hand in the next couple of months.

Elsewhere Ireland’s squad is showing a depth in quality that only France can really rival. With the emergence of Jonny Sexton at 10, Ireland at last have a genuine rival to Ronan O’Gara. For our money, Sexton has already eclipsed ROG with his performance in the Bok game of the Autumn. ROG has been showing some of his old frailties recently in international surroundings, and with Sexton a quicker and more attacking option, he is the man to take Ireland to the world cup.

Once possession is assured at scrum time and with a proven lock combination to win the ball at the line outs, the Irish backs can be relied upon to score tries. Kearney, Earls and Tommy Bowe make up as good a back three as there is around. O’Leary, Sexton and BOD fill 3 of the 4 other spots with the only question mark being at 12. Both Wallace and Darcy have had game time there recently although neither has made it there own. We suspect Declan Kidney will go for Wallace although with a request not to give away such a high number of penalties as he has in the past.

Ireland have a tougher schedule list this year due to away fixtures at Twickenham and in Paris. For all Wales’ bluster they look like a spent force and France and possibly a nascent England represent Ireland’s biggest threats to winning the competition.

Prediction: Ireland to win the championship having lost one game, probably to France in Paris.

Advertisements

Actions

Information

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s




%d bloggers like this: