As Ireland embark on their quest to claim their first test victory in the professional era in South Africa, many questions have been raised following the aftermath of Joe Schmidt’s Ireland squad announcement regarding the logic and legitimacy of his selections and namely; omissions.
It would appear that Schmidt has to a certain extent disregarded form as a determinant when drafting his squad in favour for more familiar players with whom he has dealt with in the past, be that at Leinster or Ireland.
We take a look at the players who we feel are more than deserving of a call-up for next month’s test series against the Springboks:
The reasoning behind O’Donnell’s omission is perplexing to say the very least.
Having missed out on Ireland’s World Cup campaign through injury, the Tipperary native equipped himself more than well enough during Ireland’s arduous 6 Nations campaign. With Sean O’Brien unavailable through injury, O’Donnell and Josh van der Flier slogged it out during the course of the competition taking turns in making their mark in the first XV.
However, now that the Leinster duo are both unavailable for next months tour it is truly puzzling that Schmidt has found no room for the Munster man in the squad whose pace, power and strength would have been ideal on the hard African plains.
Yet again Schmidt has decided to opt for Jordi Murphy who is at the tail end of a below par season.
Hailed by many as the prophetical second coming of BOD, Ringrose brings an element of shrewd skill and devastating creative flair which we haven’t seen the likes of since ‘He’ decided to hang up the boots.
Ireland’s backline has been criticised for it’s lack of inventiveness and creativity as Schmidt’s side repeatedly revert back to kick-chase tactics. While these tactics has been effective for Ireland, Ringrose could yet prove to be the breath of fresh air needed to address this stale approach which is somewhat outdated in the modern game.
Cries have been made to blood new talent into the Irish squad for which a tour such as nexts month’s would be the ideal setting to do so. Many now feel that with the likes of Ringrose’s omission, that Ireland adopt too much ‘mollycoddling’ tactics and are afraid to expose their young talent on the senior stage in the fear that they are not yet ready.
Take for example the 2014 Junior World Cup at which Ringrose was a finalist on the shortlist for Player of the Tournament. Alongside Ringrose in that impressive list were Maro Itoje and Jesse Kriel and evetual winner Handre Pollard who have all gone on to become stalwarts within their national teams. While Ringrose’s time will come it is hard to see what benefit a Summer on the coach at home will do for him in his development.
Apart from securing a contract extension with his native Ulster, it hasn’t been a great week for Stuart McCloskey who will now have to wait until after the Summer for his second international cap after having displayed glimpses of quality against England in the 6 Nations.
In a three match test series against the Springboks where it would seem that hard contact and brutal physicality will rule the day(s), McCloskey would have appeared to have been a shoe-in for his sheer size as he has been cutting holes through opposition defences all season for Ulster while offering a bedrock for the team when playing without the ball.
Schmidt however has opted for Ulster teammate Stuart Olding who to his credit is an exceptional talent that can provide cover in an array of positions in the backline. His only downside being that of his size as at 5′ 11″ and 90kg Olding may prove to be a weakness within the Iirsh backline against the physically imposing advantage held by the Springboks.
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