Gilroy deserves his chance against Pumas


RUGBY:Craig Gilroy, the 21-year-old uncapped Ulster winger, increasingly looks to have forced his way into the Irish starting XV to play Argentina this Saturday.

In keeping with every utterance from the Irish coaching staff before and since Ireland’s 53-0 win over Fiji last Saturday, the stand-in defensive coach Anthony Foley yesterday reiterated that game’s importance in the context of selecting a team to play Argentina.

Asked whether the selection would be based primarily on form in training over the month, Foley said: “You can’t be that disparaging to Fiji because we went out with a plan to strangle them and not give them any of the open-field running that they thrive off.”

Extolling the way a remodeled team demonstrated patience, confidence, composure, execution and a defensive resolve, Foley said: “All that was good and you judge a lot on the character of the players that were out on the pitch at Thomond Park at the weekend.

“Training last week was excellent, guys were going against everyone and you see that on a regular basis but when you go out against opposition on the international stage you want to judge yourselves there like everybody else gets judged.”

To give this stance credibility amongst the squad as anywhere else, Gilroy almost has to play. For sure, last Saturday wasn’t the first cousin of what Ireland will face next Saturday, which is why the pack will almost certainly be unchanged from the South African game now that Mike Ross has some more game time.

Given Conor Murray’s commanding outing in Eoin Reddan’s enforced absence, there may be only one change to the backline for it would be a huge gamble to pick, say, Luke Marshall (yet to start a Heineken Cup game) ahead of Gordon D’Arcy.

By contrast, Andrew Trimble had a couple of dodgy moments prior to being withdrawn against South Africa before Fergus McFadden and Gilroy were each afforded a half on the left wing in Thomond Park. McFadden did nothing wrong, muscularly scoring twice, but Gilroy’s hat-trick and overall performance had a touch of Shane Williams about him. Based on this November window, Gilroy deserves his chance against Argentina this Saturday.

Foley did admit that this would be a different game, given Argentina’s vastly superior lineout and scrum, and it would also be similar to South Africa’s array of secondrow and backrow carriers “that come around corners and run hard. They’ve a scrumhalf who will test us around the edges and as you see from the French game (last Saturday), if you over chase them at all they’ll pick you off on an inside shoulder, and if they get into any bit of offloading game they’re into heaven”.

One ventures that the key will be the breakdown, where Ireland’s clearing-out could have been more accurate. “At times we’ve been good but sometimes it’s let us down.”

All the more so, he agreed, against Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe, Juan Manuel Leguizamon and co. “Oh yea, if they get a sniff at all around the breakdown at the weekend they’ll drive through. A lot will depend on the referee,” he added in reference to South African Jaco Peyper, “and his interpretation of the breakdown, and what is a breakdown and what is a tackle situation.”

Ireland could finish anywhere between sixth and 11th in the rankings, but the bottom line is that a win will ensure a top-eight seeding for the World Cup draw and a loss will put them outside the top eight. Foley admitted it was “probably the biggest game I’ve been involved in in an autumn series,” given its ramifications for the 2015 World Cup, but there’s a danger of over-hyping it too.

Inaugural Cup Brown honoured

Ireland-Argentina matches tend to have plenty at stake, and the ramifications for the forthcoming World Cup draw make Saturday’s meeting overall and 12th since 1999 no different. But in addition, for the first time this fixture will be contested for the Admiral William Brown Cup.

A native of Foxford, Co Mayo, Brown left home at an early age and travelled to Philadelphia and later to Buenos Aires. There he led their fledgling navy in a war of independence. He died in Buenos Aires on March 3rd, 1857 in the presence of his lifelong friend Fr Fahy.

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