Wolfhounds sniffing for Saxons and succession
In addition to Zebo, Gilroy, McFadden and Keith Earls all remain in Carton House, with the latter or Gilroy perhaps favoured to fill the right-wing position. Nonetheless, Fitzgerald, especially, could do his hopes of a return during the Six Nations no harm with another confident display.
The other riddle for the Six Nations opener would appear to be the backrow, and whether Peter O’Mahony or Henry start alongside Jamie Heaslip and Seán O’Brien.
Even so, it’s good to see James Coughlan have the honour of captaining the Wolfhounds, all the more so given, curiously, he never presented the Irish club international side. (Ironically, the Ireland- qualified England tighthead Paul Doran-Jones has done so.)
“I’ve just looked at their pack and they’re big men,” admitted Coughlan. “In the backrow is a massive man, George Kruis – I’ve played against him at Saracens. Jordan Crane is a big ball- carrier. So I think they’ll be coming over here to try to dominate us physically. It’s a huge thing that if we can win the collisions we’ll come out on the right side of the result.
Opportunity for everybody
“It’s an opportunity for everybody. It’s not being dismissed as ‘Off ye go lads, play your game and we’ll see ye at the end of the Six Nations’. We’ve been in the meetings and gone through game plans and had a look at the Welsh.
“The carrot is there, so it’s time to go out and perform now. I’m sure it’s the same for the Saxons lads.”
Alongside him is the rapidly emerging Tommy O’Donnell, whose “development physically has been incredible”, according to Coughlan. “He’s extremely quick, he’s a big, strong ball-carrier, and he’s been extremely efficient around the breakdown, which is exactly what you’re looking for out of your seven.”
There are also the two young locals made good, Dave McSharry and the hugely promising 19-year-old fullback Robbie Henshaw. “At his age there is loads of things he can achieve,” said Kidney.
“I have to pick my words carefully because I don’t like putting a jinx on a young fellow. But certainly for a lad just out of school he has gone about his business really well.”
For all the Wolfhounds, and for those two especially, there is sure to be rapturous support from a capacity crowd.