Indifference would be the most mortal poison against not great Scots
Once again, the breakdown is where Ireland must break down a troubled foe at the Aviva Stadium on Sunday
Iain Henderson, seen here beating England Saxons captain Calum Clark to a lineout ball at Kingsholm Stadium last week, could force his way into the senior Ireland reckoning. Photograph: Stu Forster/Getty Images)
“There is no more mortal poison than indifference”. Irish Times columnist Lara Marlowe, reflecting on French President François Hollande in her piece on January 18th Inside Hollande’s love triangle, was referring to Valérie Trierweiler musings about a book on a forgotten Resistance hero. I can’t imagine a Joe Schmidt team containing Brian O’Driscoll in his last Six Nations would fall foul of indifference this Sunday. But it has happened to Ireland in the past, especially against Scotland.
Our resistance hero, O’Driscoll, will never be forgotten, not with all he has achieved and hardly with the Welsh circus around the corner but his recent low profile hints at a man intent on getting the job done.
And Schmidt, for all his success and world-class coaching, must also get the job done.
As I am not privy to today’s team selection as I write I would assume Schmidt will play his strongest hand. However, I would be amazed if, even in the ruthless Six Nations he doesn’t dilute his options over the coming weeks.
One possible is Ulster’s Iain Henderson, who made three big hits in the opening one minute and 45 seconds against the Saxons and landed a monster on 31 minutes 26 seconds when Saxons’ flying winger Charlie Sharples cut a line in midfield.
Dexterity of feet
Connacht’s Fionn Carr ran a very similar line on Saracens secondrow Steve Borthwick and skinned him. Most impressively, Henderson had the dexterity of feet and confidence in his pace to track Sharples down and smash him.
Add to Henderson, Munster prop James Cronin and Leinster prop Martin Moore. And with only a handful of games remaining till RWC 2015 Schmidt must get the balance right in his back line where immense experience in midfield must be diluted gently.
Luke Marshall is obviously raising his stock but huge unknown unknowns surround the future number 13. It is unlikely this campaign will unearth major answers there.
Based on Scottish club rugby – Connacht have more European points than Glasgow and Edinburgh – and especially Munster’s convincing Heineken Cup defeat of the latter there is loads of scope for Irish indifference on Sunday.
There are understandably only three Edinburgh players in Scotland’s starting 15, two of them in the pack. At Thomond Park, hooker Ross Ford and scrumhalf Greig Laidlaw battled bravely for Edinburgh to no avail and in the middle of the backrow David Denton was a grey man of indifference.
He rarely popped up and when he did it was a half-hearted effort, leading to errors.