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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: November 2, 2010 @ 2:09 pm

    O’Brien unlucky to miss out

    Carl O'Malley

    While the side that has been named to take on the Springboks this Saturday looks a reasonably strong one, it is a little surprising to see there is no place for Seán O’Brien.


    The Leinster forward has been one of the form Irish players so far this  season, but Declan Kidney has opted for David Wallace and Denis Leamy instead.

    As always, it’s hard to argue with the inclusion of either of the Munster stalwarts, but O’Brien was more than a match for both when Leinster won the Magners League meeting between both sides a month ago and can consider himself unlucky.

    Surely a run out against the world champions would be of more benefit to the 23-year-old Carlow man than it would be to either of the Munster veterans.

    • GoldenAye says:

      I’m a massive O’Brien fan, and I suppose this selection dilema should actually be viewed as a positive for Irish rugby. Competition etc. However, really feel he should have made the bench, as the squad should be factoring WC 2011 into its squad selections at this stage. For me, it’s a fair call to start Wallace, but O’Brien to be sprung from the bench.

    • paul m says:

      maybe Kidney sees O’Brien as a someone to hold back until the All Blacks game. there may be a lot of bruised bodies after the boks game and it could be handy to have a young fast moving flanker to go up against the all blacks richie mccaw. Not that Leamy or Wallace are slouches, but its a different type of attritional game against the South Africans. Out of all the games we need to prove we can win, the New Zealand match is the holy grail out of this november series.

    • Simon B says:

      Versatility is an issue when selecting a bench. Leamy gives you cover for 8 as well as 6. I’d say that’s why Court is in ahead of Ross aswell – he can play both sides of the front row.

    • A Magee says:

      So much for picking on form

    • robespierre says:

      It’s not just that the O’Brien call with Leamy seems puzzling given O’Brien’s form and his vastly greater impact as a runner than Leamy but that it was not the only marginal call to go to Munster men.

      I am astonished that Devon Toner was left out for somebody as profoundly ordinary and unproven as Donnacha Ryan. Mick O’Driscoll may be kind of the guy in possession but against the Bokke lineout I don’t think it would have done any harm to be able to throw on a lighthouse if our throw was going to bits. O’Driscoll and Heaslip are great options to have but O’Callaghan has never been great and we will have to throw away from their second rows.

      Leamy may be able to play 6 and 8 but O’Brien can play 6 and 7 and Wallace can play 7 and 8. For me, this was not a marginal call at all. Also, I think Earls is very lucky to be under consideration given the how little he has actually done in an Irish shirt.

      Not sure about Tom Court – he only really covers one side of the scrum as is a loose head. I think bringing Buckley in is correct at this stage but I would rather have Ross on the bench than Court. It is much easier to go Tight to Loose than Loose to Tight.

    • Chris says:

      While it is interesting to see who got picked and who didn’t for the Springboks game this week, it may be a bit early to put too much analysis into it. If there is someone consistently left out later in the Autumn Internationals, there may be cause to look at why, but for the moment, in my opinion at least, we should wait and see. Kidney may have reasons behind what he is doing.

    • maurice smyth says:

      o brien has been in outstanding form this season
      not to be in the 22 is a mistake

    • maurice smyth says:

      o brien is agreat player and should be in the 22
      he needs a run at this level to see has he got what it takes

    • Mark says:

      “Also, I think Earls is very lucky to be under consideration given the how little he has actually done in an Irish shirt.”

      6 tries in ten internationals? Same points tally as Darcy after a fifth as many caps? The lad has no future…

    • Darragh Crowley says:

      In B.O.D we trust!

    • Chris says:

      I can’t believe Mick O’Driscoll has been selected. He is not even a decent club player. Bakkies and Victor are going to eat him alive on Saturday, just as the All Blacks did over the summer, and Kidney will still play him against NZ again and the Wallabies. He sees no wrong in this guy who the rest of us can see no right in. How Bob Casey has only 1/3 of the caps O’Driscoll has is scandalous. Touhy was excellent for us in the summer but no place in the squad. The Leinster pack destroys Munster on a routine basis, yet 2 Leinster men in the Irish pack and 4 Munster men??? No bias there at all. At least he has managed to supress his red urges by leaving Earls and O’Gara off the team.

    • irene says:

      O’Brien should’ve got the nod over Wallace with the more versatile Leamy on the bench. Cian Healy is good around the park but rubbish in the scrum. So I would’ve picked Court with Ross on bench. Otherwise team is along expected lines

    • Richard Harper says:

      sean o’brien should have started with wallace on the bench. also trimble should start before earls on form!
      but saying healy can’t scrumage is stupid he def can but more importantly hes only 22 with props peak at the 30 mark we need him to develop for world cup! court hasn’t got the game time i would have ross on the bench or starting

    • I agree that O’Brien is very exciting and am slightly worried about Kidney’s outlook for Irish rugby that he is picking along traditional lines. The Tri nations this year showed that rugby is evolving in a very new direction with lighter more ball playing forwards key to success. I just really hope Ireland start to show that they are capable of playing this exciting and technically challenging game, regardless of results, we really need to signal that we can go through 20 phases and break down defences if needs be.

    • Paul Twohig says:

      I agree it would have been nice to see O’Brien get a craic at the boks, although the idea of sprining him against the all blacks sounds good. I agree that trimble should start but I would like to see earls on the bench.

      O’Driscoll is a very hard worker, very intelligent rugby player and maybe I’m raising to the bait but he fully deserves his place on form. This suggestion of munster bias is pure rubbish

    • Jer says:

      Cannot see the point in looking at Wallace here! O brien was the obvious choice with leamy on the bench! O brien deserved his chance to make an impact to see if he has what it takes! If he couldn’t cut it, we know what Wallace can do! Not happy Mick o driscoll and o Callaghan are in! Average around the paddock and mangled by the London Irish lineout! 2 ordinary players with average to poor skill set!but not many locks are putting their hands up either!
      But I trust kidney and Maybe we will see variety in his selection yet! Like o brien to go toe to toe with mccaw! As for the person who stated earls has done nothing in an Ireland shirt! 6 tries in 2 fledgling seasons, a lion and lethal provincial finisher!

    • Twig says:

      @Paul Twohig – ‘fraid you need to take off the Munster-tinted specs. Mick O’Driscoll is a stalwart for the Magners League but he is not an international quality player, and he is certainly not going to be any use to us in the RWC. Its a real shame that Tuohy is being ignored – he is a player who will have to play a part next September. Earls has yet to deliver on the promise he showed at full back in his breakthrough season and, given his limited game time this season, should not make the 22. I am a big Wally fan but think that – if we are thinking about the world cup – we need O’Brien to get all the game time he can…who knows if Wally will still be there and firing on all cylinders next September. Also not sure why Reddan is starting. I would start Stringer and have Boss on the bench for some impact.

    • Richard says:

      What u would have stringer and boss before redan!! he is the best scrum half! might lack o’learys strength but is better at the modern style of rugby inviting a fast tempo game with the backline coming into life him and sexton are a brillant combo and without rog their we don’t need a tackling machine at 9 to cover rog’s channel.

    • gerry says:

      @Twig. First of all Mick O’Driscoll got MOTM in Munster’s demolition of Toulon, He is playing very well at the moment. He also was a starter in the team in POC absence which saw Munster qualify from its pool that had Clermont in it. He was also the captain of the Munster team that managed to score a try against the All Blacks unlike all the NH countries that played the ABs that season. The only other fit lock would be Devon Toner – and Matfield would eat him alive and probably destroy his confidence. Toner isn’t versatile enough for the bench. (D Ryan plays backrow as well as lock).

      Tuohy is behind Barker in Ulster and has only played one full game this season (against Edinburgh which Ulster lost). He seems to be about 5th choice in Ulster.

      You must have missed Earls 6 tries in 10 games (8 starts). If you think Earls has yet to deliver on his promise, what do you think Luke Fitzgerald has to do (2 tries in 13 caps). Earls was joint top try scorer in the last 6Ns (his 2nd season) not bad for a rookie who played 3 different positions!

      Perhaps we should be playing Luke Fitzgerald instead of BOD – with dodgy hammers who knows if BOD will be able to play in next year’s RWC. Hopefully Kidney will rest Wally after this weekend and perhaps release him to play against Australia for Munster. You do realise there are 4 matches to be played (5 for Munster players when you count Munster v Ausralia). SOB should get plenty of gametime.

    • Rob says:

      Its a tough call on O’Brien mostly – man of the match against Munster and Metro – and probably joint man of the match against Saracens too! vs what has essentially been a cameo season from Wallace?? no doubting the experience there but think it’s harsh!

      Hard to agree/disagree with the second row – not a huge amount between Toner/ Ryan/ O’Driscoll. I do think its harsh on Toner not to even make the bench though given his form this season and also the amount of game time he’s had!! main point here is that Matfield / Botha will eat them all alive – doesnt really matter who we selected! Front 5 will be SA’s strongest component come saturday – think we’ll be aiming to run around rather than through them!

    • Darragh Crowley says:

      For B.O.D’s sake!

    • Stevo32 says:

      Go on Tulla…..with the tullow sidestep special!!!!


    • paul m says:

      i think we should wait and see how the dust settles after the springboks game. Not to sound cocky but we have beaten them before and its probably a platform for Kidney to test a munster weighted scrum which has a tried and tested formula for wearing down heavier pack dependent teams, Yes Leinster have shown they can break the Munster scrum but it is definitely a more mobile running unit that he could switch to for the NZ or Aussie game. We have to be able to significantly vary our game tactic from match to match as we saw with our last foray into the World Cup and even on the Lions tour, we were read like a book and couldnt adapt before the game when it mattered.

      No point in Kidney showing his full hand to the All Blacks either, especially as they wont have gotten a proper measure of the younger lads yet. And lets face it thats the game this tour is all about. If we get within a hairs whisker of beating the Kiwi’s or dare i say it even record a win over them, then we can be satisfied we have a fighting chance against the top four come the world cup.

    • Enda says:

      I just hope none of the players are reading the dross above. Surely we should all be congratulating the players and wishing them the best. It is not my choice 15 and of course I want to see players from my province do well and play for Ireland but I would never ever say on a national newspaper that certain professional rugby players on this island are unproven nor would I take from their enormous achievements.

      Lets just curb our provincial teams for November and SUPPORT our country.

    • mark says:

      While I too feel O’Brien is unlucky to miss out for this match the whole point of this experienced selection is that Ireland badly need a win.
      There will be time for experimentation in the later matces but the team need a victory to build on.If we had come into this on the back of victories in the last few tests I think the side might look quite different.

    • knox harrington says:

      SOB – carlows best export since Johnny Nevin- keep it up lad

    • Julio says:

      It is harsh on O’Brien, but if the overall plan is to rest him for NZ, than that’s OK with me. My concern here is balance and I’m not sure this back row is balanced – it certainly struggled last season, esp against Scotland.

      Re 2nd Rows – I think O’D is the best choice given form and experience. Again, looking at the series, this is only valid if Toner and others get game time agains Samoa and possibly Argentina.

      Another concern with this team is the bench. I hope Trimble gets the nod as I’m reminded of the last Lions match when they needed ROG and Shane Williams to come on – altogether too lightweight. This bench for me doesn’t have the look of one that can come on and close out a match (before anyone says it – that is not reference that ROG shouldn’t be there – he should).

      All that aside, we have a great chance of beating SA this weekend and I can’t wait to get back the Landsdown for Internations. If the atmosphere is half as good as the Leinster v Munster match 4 weeks ago it will be a cracker.

      Good luck lads!!

    • Chris says:

      Keith Earls would not make the Leinster academy. Apart from the first team, McFadden, Morris, Macken and particularly Conway are miles ahead of this guy. And don’t give me the line about 6 tries in 10 caps, even Dowling would look good alongside Darcy, O’Driscoll, Kearney and Bowe.

      Mick O’Driscoll would be roughly 5th choice at Leinster. 6th choice at Ulster. A lot of store put on his MOM display against the Toulon 3rd string team. Nothing mentioned about the fact Leinster have mangled the Munster pack the last 5 times they’ve played. Touhy, Toner, Ryan, Casey, Cullen and whoever is packing down for Shannon’s 2nd team are better players.

    • Larry says:

      Eh Chris, what are you talking about? I think you are just a fire starter?
      This article and comments did not begin as an Irish provincial player bashing session. Earls is a terrific player a possesses real class. The names you have mentioned there were not on any Lions short list. He is great and so to thank God are the other players in the squad. Are you now suggesting the coaching squad that won a Grand Slam have become devoid of all intelligence to wait on a player?
      Slamming players like Mick O’D is a joke, he has played in the shadow of Paul O’C for a long time and has certainly proven himself.
      This game is the first of a series of 4 and so O’Brien will justly get his chance against the All Blacks and no doubt prove himself. I am certain so to will Toner.But this is not the occasion to give your Leinster Acadamy a go just to blood players. We need to win this game and to do that need a mix of experience with youth. Youth and experience is even better where you can get it in a player like Earls. He and Fitzgerald will be core players long into the future.
      Re a Munster bias mentioned afore, i don’t buy that for a minute. Kidney is too too sharp to let that blur his focus.
      I do hope and believe come the end of the series and 6 nations that barring injury you will get to eat your words on Earls. Maybe lets see how many of McFadden, Morris, Macken and particularly Conway have proven themselves in this period also.
      if you are the wind up merchant, then i guess it has worked.
      Come on Ireland, stand behind our men!

    • Julio says:

      @Larry – totally agree with you shifting the focus from petty inter-provincial point scoring.

      Important in this series is that Kidney starts to take some more risks, unlike his appalling selections towards the end of the 6 nations. He is a shrewd man and a great people person, but I hope he has learnt his lessons. I want to see the hard decision maker back, who sidlined Stringer in favour of O’Leary in the HC a few years back.

      As I mentioned earlier, use O’Brien agains NZ, and hopefully Ross and Cronin at some stage also (though I’d like to see his darts improve) and I’ll be happier, regardless of results.

      Our goal at this time must be to have a competitive 35 man squad by September next year, where all players contribute and compete for places.

    • mtb says:

      Calm down Barry, calm down.There is a plan this time around. And come the end of this series there will be a six nations plan. Lots of interesting decisions will be called and you provincial head-bangers should relax before you start whining. Save your energy for the new year gov strikes and respect the bigger picture.

    • DMB says:

      Keith Earls would walk into the Leinster team – McFadden amongst those you’ve mentioned has been on teh scene for what 5 years without really making a breakthrough – Earls made Munster/Ireland and Lions breakthrough in his first season and is far more dangerous than any you’ve mentioned and far more dangerous than Fitz – on the wing at least

      Oh and the comment about anyone looking good to downgrade his 6 tries in 10 games – Fitz has scored 2 in 13 (both aginst Italy) in the same company

      Donnacha Ryan is more tried and tested than Devin Toner – and is a better fit for this match as he is far far more physical

      MOD is one of teh best linout operators we have – he is not top class but is the right man for the job at this time

      SOB is unlucky and Reddan is lucky – thats not exactly a form call

    • Larry says:

      Hi Carl, Any chance of a new Blog before this one completely forgets its origin?
      What are your thoughts on the BOKs arrival, their injury woes, their team, our chances, our preparation. where can the game be won by ireland and will the IRFU sell off the last of them tickets at a decent price to fill the house?
      Thank God for Rugby distraction these days….

    • Mick says:

      Sean O’ Brien was man of the match against Racing Metro who were top of the French League and have an internaitonal back row. He was again man of the match against Munster with a back row who are selected above him and he had another great game against Saracens.

      When BOD, O’Connell and O’Gara were the young inexperienced form players for their provinces they were always selected so it’s very bizarre that O’Brien is not at least on the bench.
      O’Brien is also a very good no 8, so arguably more versatile in the Irish camp and at the very least a great impact player off the bench. Kidney generally makes good decisions but on this occassion he cannot say that he has selected on form.

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