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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: November 18, 2010 @ 3:03 pm

    Leinster duo get nod for All Blacks test

    Paul Gallagher

    Initial whisperings from the stalls suggest Ireland coach Declan Kidney has gone for a conservative selection to face the might of the All Blacks at Lansdowne Road on Saturday.

    With the exception of Tom Court, who came in for the injured Tony Buckley, it’s the same starting line-up who lost to world champions South Africa in the opening test.

    Strong cases could surely have been made for the Munster duo of Ronan O’Gara and Peter Stringer to start ahead of Jonathan Sexton and Eoin Reddan.

    Tough calls around the halfback partnerships: Eoin Reddan and Peter Stringer during Ireland training at Lansdowne Road (Photographs: Cathal Noonan/Inpho )

    Tough calls around the halfback partnerships: Eoin Reddan and Peter Stringer during Ireland training at Lansdowne Road (Photographs: Cathal Noonan/Inpho )

    Stringer has been in good form of late and with the All Blacks breathing down your neck around the scrum, Stringer’s quick ball may have offered more compared to Reddan, who has been criticised for taking the extra step and time. O’Gara made an immediate impression when coming off the bench against South African and kicked 15 of Ireland’s 20 points against Samoa.

    However, it’s the Leinster halfback partnership as opposed to the Munster duo who are preferred for this one.

    There appears a reluctance by selectors to break away from the provincial divide and try something new. Stringer and Sexton, for example, have yet to play together at test level.

    Was this the time to try and test new formations with the World Cup in mind or have the selectors got it right for what will surely be the toughest test of the autumn series?

    Sexton and Reddan get the nod

    Ireland team (v New Zealand): C Healy, R Best, T Court, D O’Callaghan, M O’Driscoll, S Ferris, D Wallace, J Heaslip, R Kearney, T Bowe, B O’Driscoll (C), G D’Arcy, L Fitzgerald, J Sexton, E Reddan. Replacements: S Cronin, J Hayes, D Toner, D Leamy, P Stringer, R O’Gara, K Earls.

    New Zealand team (v Ireland): M Muliaina, C Jane, C Smith, M Nonu, H Gear, D Carter, A Ellis; K Read, R McCaw (C), J Kaino, T Donnelly, B Thorn, O Franks, H Elliot, T Woodcock. Replacements: A Hore, J Afoa, A Boric, L Messam, A Mathewson, S Donald, S Bill Williams.

    • Teddy says:

      Either way we’re probably going to be hammered. It’s going to be the kind of game where I’ll watch while simultaneously trying to hide behind my couch. I’m actually scared. And I’m usually foolishly optimistic before taking on the Kiwis. we have to beat them eventually, I always think. Not this time. Just not enough confidence to take on the All Blacks and inflict damage. They’ll take their chances and if those chances are presented early it could be a loooong day. I guess Kidney and his brains trust are hoping Ireland might stay close to NZ and dream scenario O’Gara and Stringer come in to try and nose ahead and close it out. I also think that Kidney knows that NZ know that O’Gara is a massive weak link in that back line defensively. Carter is the best running outhalf in the game and Nonu is a steamrolling brute. We’d be exposed by trying to cover him continually.

      I’m hoping we can at least keep the handling errors to a minimum and go down swinging. I will accept defeat (gracious of me I know) but if its an error strewn hapless performance and a defeat, It’ll be just depressing.

      Watch out for Hosea Gear and Cory Jane on the wings — class acts. I’d bet on them getting two tries a piece. Sonny Bill Williams coming on as a sub for the last 25 mins could be trouble too. Let’s hope Darcy lasts the match.

      I’d bet on New Zealand by 30-35 points — 42 – 10 or thereabouts. Shoot me.

    • robespierre says:

      This is actually a pretty defensive as well as a conservative selection. The best tacklers are pretty much to a man on the pitch. Damage limitation exercise.

      Munster won two European cups by playing ugly, unattractive football. Kidney was a fish out of water at Leinster. As O’Driscoll said at the time he had learnt nothing in a year. Contepomi played reserves.

      I’d say he is a conservative tactician but the spirit of Edmund Burke would haunt me for crimes against the progressive aspects of conservatism.

      He should be given a chance to turn things around but he lacks the imagination to play rugby with elan. This is an Irish thing by the way, not a Leinster thing.

      So we won a triple crown playing boring rugby. Yippee, le roi est mort, vive le roi.

    • Larry says:

      Teddy Teddy!! you are scaring me, stop AGGHH!! Defensive is ok against these guys but its the same crew that came out flat and stayed flat agains SA for near the whole match. They had better come out fightin and be ready for the full 99 mins NZ play. We need to come out and play with no respect for them and just leave it all on the pitch.

      Sexton starting makes total sense, he will protect that channel. Have serious worries on Reddan going sideways across the pitch. Surely Stringer can pass it to Sexton as well. ROG playing well at the end of SA game is not relevent and he would say so himself, the game was near done by then, so starting him on that basis would make no sense as he did not set the world on fire against Somoa for the first 40 mins.
      Only Earls on the bench to for the backs if we loose one or two on the field we may have O’Gara and Sexton on at the same time…
      Mick O’D has to be a serious concern there, he cant be the future and i just dont think he is the present either.

      Can someone go and discover a Sonny Bill O’Herlihy and a few Zin Zan Murphys, then we will have a good go at them.

      Teddy go back to you Optimism and come back with more Hope please!
      NZ by 10 points. 30:20

    • sendero says:

      It’s the old, old story – again! Anytime a halfway decent outhalf appears in Leinster the Dublin News media start the drum-roll of demand for his inclusion and the current outhalf (usually from Munster) gets the heave-ho – and never mind whether he’s better than the newcomer or not! You don’t believe me? Ask Mick English, Barry McGann, Ralph Keyes, Tony Ward and now O’Gara. Kidney has gone native since he moved to Dublin.

      Saturday will see another BlackWash – the members of this Irish team don’t believe in each other and especially not in their Captain and wont give their all for each other

    • sarsfield says:

      I can’t believe Mick O’Driscoll’s been picked to start – what did he do against SA, and why is he preferred over the worthy Bob Casey or Leo Cullen for that matter, both completely overlooked. And why not begin with Stringer whose speed and grace of pass is still unsurpassed.

      And I can’t see any reason to persevere with Wallace in the backrow, whose renowned ball-carrying failed to manifest in the last two games. Why not try him at centre and think outside the loop – his ball-carrying strength and size might be a great asset here when D’Arcy and O’Driscoll are looking a bit tired. Or even bring Heaslip into the centre for the same reasons. That’s the trend in the modern game – look at De Villiers, Steyn and Jauzion.

      Experimental I know but sticking to the same old format gets nowhere, as I’m afraid we’ll witness on Saturday

    • Richard Harper says:

      how the hell has ross been released? the best prop at tight head ireland have such s**t we have put in to much time into the bull!!! no point throughing good money after bad!!!!! we need a solid scrum ross would give this to us!!!!

    • Alan M says:

      What does stringer have to do to show that he is the best at the moment. I am itching to see what Sexton could do with an extra second on the ball – we could even have an attacking backline again…

    • Aido says:

      I’m delighted he picked Sexton and Redden. I’ve a large bet on NZ to win by 14 points. No chance of and Irish win with that pair. I think Kidney has lost his way since leaving Munster. At least O’Gara might not be injured for the upcoming Heineken Cup games.

    • John says:

      I would have liked to see a Stringer/Sexton pairing. Reddan does not have the speed of pass, or the fleet of foot, required at the top level of the game. It is not necessary to place two half-backs together at international level simply because they happen to play together at provincial level. Daniel Carter and Jimmy Cowan do not play together at club/franchise level in New Zealand, yet they are typically paired, with great success, at international level.

      I realise that Peter Stringer cannot go on forever, and we do need to find a viable replacement (who is given real game time at Test level) for him. This is, no doubt, what Declan Kidney is conscious of. The onus, therefore, is on the Development system to produce such a viable replacement.

    • Teddy says:

      @sendero — O’Gara’s 34 or 35 right? We do have to blood a new outhalf, hence Sexton getting starts from last year’s Six Nations. In this game, it was touch and go, I’d say with O’Gara’s experience counting for a lot but Kidney knows NZ would run through O’Gara repeatedly. He’s famous for being woeful defensively in NZ. Sorry.

      Let’s hope Sexton has a good game, takes his penalties and keeps us within touching distance and O’Gara comes in to finish the job with a cross field up and under into the arms of Tommy Bowe.

    • Larry says:

      @senderoI disagree with you this time. I am a ROG fan but DK is preparing with the game and the future in mind. Ireland needs Sexton to be ready come world cup for big games, this is a good one for him. he does bring some physicality there that could be attacked with Rog.
      I dont think he is loyal or dis loyal in this case. Come the 6 nations it is all about form and selection should be different then. Is see England have been installed as favourites there!!

      I do agree that the media focus is at #10 and it should not be, even with the headline of this article and blog and other.The forwards have not performed and I dont feel like the have gone out on the field with the attitude they need to. If they did go out with passion and more desire but were still beaten then we would have to accept that is where we are at, but I dont think they have put in that performance. If we dont have possession then everyone gets edgy. The backs when they do get the ball get exposed by trying to hard individually to make an impression.
      The bench must be used prior to the last 10 mins of a game to be most effective.

    • paul m says:

      i think we have a big game in us and this may just be it. All the planets area aligning nicely – team and management on the back foot after a run of poor games, individual players being targeted in key positions for heavy criticism and an elephant in the room wearing a number 22 shirt. And sure we wont mention the general mood of the country either now will we?

      i remember almost similar conditions for Munster and Leinster AND the Irish team in the years they went on to win the big prize. They said it cant be done but McCaw and Carter arent the spring chickens they used to be, they’re still tough but if the attritional weather can hold off for one weekend I think our backline can puncture the All Blacks and we may see a truly uplifting event.

      Ireland to sneak it, grand slam style in the dying minutes. woooooo! C’mon Ireland.

    • Larry says:

      Jeysus Thats the stuff paul m… now you got me believing

    • Dave Cussack says:

      Talk about Fantasy Footie……..Ireland to get hammered by at least a 20 point margin…..and this with a weaker

      All Black team………Irish backs could,nt catch the ball let alone make a break..Rob Kearney is clueless but a great catcher and tottally predicatble..No sign of Bob Casey ever been given a jersey….Front 5 to be destroyed…….Samoan win flattered Ireland by the OGara try.
      Sorry folks come back to reality……..World Cup preparations started long ago for the proper rugby nations………….

    • John B. Reid says:

      The first battle which the Ireland players must win, is the mental battle. They must actually believe that they will beat New Zealand.
      Ireland will have to start the match faster than their opponents.
      We will have to keep hold of possession for long periods in the opening quarter in order to compete in this match. And we will have to have scored at least two tries before half-time.
      We will have to go into half-time leading the match, and then we will have to do it all over again in the second half. There is no such thing as beating the Blacks before the full eighty minutes are up. No-matter how well we play, we will have to keep doing it up until the final minute.
      Above all, we cannot kick away the ball. New Zealand will tear us to shreds, by way of counter-attack, if we insist on giving them the ball. We will have to back ourselves to attack New Zealand with ball in hand, both backs and forwards.
      Ireland’s execution of scoring opportunities will have to be perfect, because New Zealand’s will be.
      Finally, the men who will be privileged to wear the green jersey, this Saturday, must demonstrate the same love of jersey and heritage that the mighty men of Munster would unfailingly do, if they were taking to the field, in red jerseys, against the All Blacks today.

    • paul m says:

      apologies for my fantastical overzealous predictions of a win. it was there in the first 30mins. At least it was a game of two teams as opposed to an all black rout. Take pride in the fact McCaw saw it as a good game of footie. Cracking stuff, Ireland. More of this please.

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