Lead us, Captain Heaslip: you demand it of us, and we of you
Behind them, the Scottish match will suit Donnacha Ryan’s game much better than England so a Kevin McLaughlin-style player could be brought in for Mike McCarthy. Perception is at its strongest in the backrow where no one can doubt the role and work ethic of Seán O’Brien, a certain starter.
Likewise the talent and nuisance value of Chris Henry, a possible starter. Ditto for Peter O’Mahony.
What perception does the public have of our new captain this week?
I have long been a fan for two reasons: Firstly, he is not the biggest (in a ball-carrying sense) but is extremely athletic. He will never match Stephen Ferris or O’Brien, so has developed his own style. Secondly, without a true openside, he has had to dilute his natural style for the team’s benefit; not unlike Wayne Rooney with Manchester United recently.
True to his team
This must be frustrating his general game and natural talents but he has stayed true to his team by being in the top-two tacklers thus far. Perception: is he imposing himself on each fixture?
Captaining Ireland brings with it major responsibility and burden. He is the representation of us in the stand; those who have made huge sacrifices to be there want our captain to be us, or, more importantly, what we can’t be.
We want our captain to lead us into the corridor of power, where we fear to tread. We want him to bully the opposition, be it through action, word (on pitch or in interview) or even the furrowing of an eyebrow that puts the fear of God in their eyes.
To some degree it is a new era for this team but many of the old values epitomised by Ciarán Fitzgerald, Donal Lenihan, Phillip Matthews, Keith Wood, Paul O’Connell and Brian O’Driscoll are worth embracing in 2013. Although we want our captain to be true to himself we, the paying public, are desperate to follow him; so lead us, because you demand it of us and we of you.
Finally to Kidney’s big outhalf call. There are four to select from; Ronan O’Gara, Paddy Jackson, Ian Madigan and Ian Keatley. All four have strengths, so what does Kidney want to gain from each option as two will be in the squad? Do we require a facilitator or a doer?
Far too often perfection at provincial level is required before promotion to the international side. I’ve seen enough in Keatley and Madigan this season to start in Edinburgh; but with a kicking game, running threat, decent defence and multiple contributions per phase and better game control, Keatley to start?
PS. If it were me I’d like 15 Cian Healys on my team!