• -
  • irishtimes.com - Posted: January 19, 2011 @ 5:23 pm

    Hayes not the right option for Kidney

    Noel O'Reilly

    As always with Declan Kidney’s squad selections, there was a certain amount of head-scratching around these parts when the panel for the Six Nations was announced this afternoon. The headline news was the jettisoning of Munster’s Tomás O’Leary and Tony Buckley. O’Leary has every right feel slightly hard done by, Buckley less so.

    There is a school of thought that O’Leary hasn’t actually done all that much wrong and could play his way back into the reckoning with a couple of eye-catching performances for the Wolfhounds. Kidney has never been Eoin Reddan’s number one fan and while Peter Stringer is enjoying an Indian summer in his career, an in-form O’Leary brings something different to the party.

    Buckley, on the other hand, has seen his stock plummet dramatically over the last two months and will struggle to revive a flagging international career. Hailed as the future as recently as the autumn internationals, the prop has been pilloried as the Munster scrum crumbled.

    So much so, that Munster were forced to turn to John Hayes in a vain effort to shore up their set-piece last weekend. That Hayes struggled every bit as much as Buckley appears to have been lost on Kidney and makes the veteran’s inclusion in this squad all the more baffling.

    While Mike Ross is likely to get his chance, once again Hayes will be asked to go to the well but to what end? Without wishing to be unkind to one of Irish rugby’s greatest servants, Hayes turned 37 last November and, for all his merits, was never anything more than an average scrummager. Surely the time has come to put the Bull out to pasture and bring in the likes of Jamie Hagan into the camp.

    The inclusion of Rhys Ruddock is another curiosity. Yes, Ruddock is one for the future, but is Dominic Ryan – favoured, and with some justification, by Joe Schmidt at Leinster – not more worthy of a place in the senior squad? And with six backrow forwards ahead of them in the pecking order, neither Ruddock or new boy Mike McCarthy are likely to see any meaningful action this spring.

    Finally, Dan Tuohy’s omission is likely to rankle among Ravenhill’s proud Ulstermen and with good cause. Having said that, Paddy Wallace can count himself fortunate to keep Fergus McFadden in the Wolfhounds.

    • David O'Connor says:

      Since Mike McCarthy has played almost all his rugby in the second row for the last few seasons, and given the fitness issues/total lack of form of what’s ahead of him, he might sneak on to the bench yet.

    • robespierre says:

      Not too mention Luke Fitzgerald being VERY lucky at his inclusion. Like O’Connell he is purely being picked on reputation. Mick O’Driscoll is puzzling as he is often very average at Magners level. I think we should have given a younger buck a chance as all four locks are in their early thirties / late career.

      It is good however to have Leo Cullen’s leadership in there – whether or not Kidney can rise above his grudges from Munster/Leinster with Jennings, Cullen, Ross and Reddan who all left his provinicial squads and made names for themselves in England remains to be seen.

      The idea that indisciplined forwards like O’Callaghan or Healy should be picked on reputation alone should not be enough. Healy has upped his game since November and hasn’t conceded a stupid penalty for a while. About ten minutes into the Saracens game he nearly got involved but checked himself and walked away. O’Callaghan 8 years his senior is often good for 6 points in penalties and whatever you score while he is off the field.

      Overall I think it is a decent squad but the issue now becomes snorefest rugby Kidney style. How do you drag Munster’s skills levels up to the standard set by Leinster and what kind of gameplan best suits the gulf in standards that has developed between the two teams since Munster’s humiliation in 2009 at Croke Park.

      Ulster are there to make up the numbers as are Connacht. Duffy may have a chance of making full back (or at least the bench) as Fitzgerald is so short of match time.

    • Patrick Coyle says:

      Have to agree with all the points being made in the blog – particularly about the inclusion of Hayes, and the continued overlooking of Hagan. It’s also odd that Carr hasn’t even made the A side.

      But instead of us all just talking about the baffling Hayes situation, and speculating about Kidney’s motives, it’d be great if journalists would just ask Kidney to explain his decision. Everyone else can apparently see that Hayes is not longer up to it, so what’s Kidney’s thinking? Fans, including Munster fans, have been wondering all season why Hayes is still playing for Ireland, and we’re now in January with the Six Nations due to start soon, and we still don’t know why he’s being selected ahead of much younger, and on the face of it, better players.

      Are journalists just not allowed to ask him to explain his decisions? Is it considered rude, and the kind of questioning of authority that we just don’t do in Ireland (look where that got us…)? If not, why don’t journalists ask him, politely, to explain what on earth is happening with Hayes? Then they could write articles, telling us what he had said. And we fans would be a lot less frustrated…

    • dealga says:

      Kidney’s thinking about Hayes is obvious and shockingly simple – Hayes will be in the team to lift O’Connell at the line-out. That’s it. No mystery.

      Regardless of the fact that Leinster have reached a new level, leaving the other three provinces behind (the Magner’s League is a joke of a competition where the leading players consistently play fewer than 10 games a season), Kidney is wedded to the simple ten man game.

      Kidney does not trust Ireland to go to a World Cup playing an expansive game. They’ve tried it and they might try it in the Six Nations. But when push comes to shove in the World Cup it will be kicking for corners and winning line outs that will comprise Plan A.

      The reason the hacks don’t ask is because they’re so close to the set-up, and have fawned over Irish rugby teams for so long, that they’re afraid to ask.

    • Eoghan says:

      I agree with Partick Coyles comments totally, would really like to see Kidney questioned about the inclusion of Hayes. He’s been a brilliant servant to Irish rugby in the past, but there really are other options that should be used now. The Ruddock inclusion was very much a surprise for me, he’s behind Dominic Ryan at Leinster and hasn’t been playing an awful lot of 1st team football. The O’Leary decision was spot on, if you’re only having 2 SHs in the squad you go with the ones playing the rugby and that’s what he did, less of a talking point as far as I’m concerned than the Hayes inclusion. Also surprised that J Murphy didn’t make it given the injury list at FB and that McFAdden was left out in favour of Wallace. I’m not really seeing the form selections in the squad.

    • Eoghan eile says:

      Fitzgerald is one of the country’s most talented players, but given the lack of playing time and his obvious rustiness represents a huge risk in such a critical position – I think Johne Murphy would be worth a shot.
      Paddy Wallace? I’m once again shaking my head in disbelief. He may have contributed to the belief stated above that “Ulster are there to make up the numbers”, but there’s an easy two-word answer to that claim: Stephen Ferris.

    • part time punk says:

      Disappointed but not surprised about Hayes’ inclusion. Hoping he’s just in the main squad to provide scrum practice. I know we’re suffering with injuries and lack of strength in depth at hooker and fullback but are there no other options that could have been included, maybe at the expense of one or two backrows? Do we really need 7 backrows in the main squad, when it seems clear to most that the first choice should be Heaslip, Ferris, O’Brien with either Wallace/Leamy on the bench? Still there’s the chance of chnages before the first game, hopefully the right ones.

    • gerry says:

      Its a squad, not a match day 22. You need 30 players at least – every position x 2 for training purposes (explains the 7 backrowers partime punk- don’t forget Heaslip isn’t still a doubt for the Racing game). Who is being left out to accommodate John Hayes or Mick O’Driscoll? Cullen was injured a lot of last season (including AIs) and Tuohy was getting very little gametime for Ulster up to recently (he may have been injured). Toner gets dropped for Hines in Leinster.

      Ireland won a grandslam on the Jerry Flannery/John Hayes/Paul O’Connell axis in the lineout (most of our tries came from the lineout). Flannery can hit his jumper every time (and at the end of the lineout for attack) and John Hayes lifting Paul O’Connell on his own means that Ireland can get an extra defensive pod of players up which nullifies the opposition’s lineout.

      I’m sure some could pick up a few tips from having the Bull around.

      Why exclude proven class like Luke Fitzgerald. Who is excluded because he is there? Carr has certainly been off form for Connacht and he doesn’t have the experience that Luke has.

      And Noel, the fact that Buckley was in hospital with a virus the week before the Toulon game maybe part of the reason the Bull started against Toulon. I don’t think Munster have any other thigh head registered in their Heineken Cup squad.

    • Will.I.Am says:

      Are ye not missing a quite obvious point here? McFadden, Buckley, O Leary & Ryan are all with the Wolfhounds to get them 80 mins rugby. The wolfhounds is on a week before the full internationals so those lads have every chance of being in the Full Squad come match day. No point sending Hayes with the wolfhounds, we know what he can(t) do at this stage.

    • Seanie fITZ says:

      After witnessing O’Leary’s performance on Saturday i can see why he has not been included in the panel, dreadful performance and, before he was pulled ashore, he looked like a man that wanted the ground to open up and swallow him!
      he needs to improve his performance and get his head together

Search Dead Rubber