In the wake of Ireland’s Six Nations victory over Wales, David Rusk ponders the bright future of the Irish team.
After Saturday’s terrific performance against Wales, the true strength and depth of Joe Schmidt’s team was revealed. Over recent years there have been major changes in the personnel involved in the Irish team. Ronan O’Gara’s departure was probably the most noticeable one. Brian O’Driscoll looks set to retire from international rugby after the Six Nations too. But it is not all doom and gloom for Ireland.
On Saturday we witnessed what Tadgh Creedon described in his article as a “tactical masterclass”. It’s a very exciting time to be an Irish fan right now. Unbeaten so far in the Six Nations, we also came very close to defeating New Zealand. We can ignore the terrible performance against Australia due to their excellent form since.
The game on Saturday proved how vital the new players coming through for Ireland actually are. Johnny Sexton, who is undoubtedly one of the top out-halfs in the world, produced a sublime display. His tactical awareness and precision kept Wales pinned back in their own half. This gave the forwards an excellent platform to work off. Initially, I was worried about Rory Best’s throwing in the lineout; it seems to be the only aspect of his game that needs to improve. However on Saturday it was perfect. Everything gelled together terrifically.
Saturday’s main man was Peter O’Mahony. Over the last two to three seasons he has been a revelation for Munster. Yet the transition he’s made to international level has been remarkable. He is a true warrior and at the age of twenty four there is plenty of room for improvement. His play on the ground is possibly one of the best in world rugby at the moment. Tommy O’Donnell, another Munster man, also has a tremendous future ahead of him.
Next on the list is young Paddy Jackson. He was unfairly introduced to international rugby by Declan Kidney. No person that young should be starting ahead of Ireland’s all-time leading point scorer. Yet Kidney took it upon himself to start him ahead of O’Gara. Unfortunately, the pressure got to the former Ireland under-20s superstar. On Saturday a more confident Jackson appeared, gaining himself a try in the process. That man has a bright future.
Finally, the last three bright sparks for Ireland will be Marty Moore, Jack McGrath, and Robbie Henshaw. These three will be on many team sheets in the next few years. McGrath’s and Moore’s power is remarkable. They constantly gain yards and are very composed ball carriers. Henshaw is unlucky not to be in the current team, but perhaps it’s too early to introduce him. I still have massive faith in the Ireland coaching set up and they will mind their rugby wunderkinds. Henshaw will play a pivotal role in the future of Irish Rugby.
Pundit Arena, David Rusk.
Featured Image By Hoops341 (Own work) [CC-BY-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.