Eoin Reddan hits the ground running

An early replacement for Conor Murray the Leinster scrumhalf produced an excellent display


The directive for any replacement in rugby is to make an impact on introduction. Eoin Reddan certainly fulfilled that remit when coming on for the unfortunate Conor Murray after 16 minutes of Ireland’s 46-7 victory over Italy at the Aviva Stadium.

The Leinster scrumhalf was a lively presence, chivvying his forwards, directing the game intelligently, sniping round the fringes and playing with a high-speed hustle that left the Italian backrow breathless and bewildered at times.

The sudden nature of Reddan’s arrival to proceedings didn’t cost him a second thought. He explained: “It was so early I was still buzzing from the warm-up. I felt fresh, I didn’t need to do anything, could nearly get straight up and go on. After 60 minutes it’s a different issue: you’ve got to do a few warm-ups and get ready. From a personal point of view it was probably an alright time to come on. I was ready to go.”

Occasionally fitful
Ireland’s performance was occasionally fitful, particularly in the first half, when the team let one or two opportunities slip, but they kept playing right through to the final whistle and that was rewarded with late tries for a couple of other replacements in Fergus McFadden and Jack McGrath.

Reddan conceded that the points’ differential was a focal point for the team as they tried to improve their chances of winning the Six Nations Championship. It was a matter of going as hard as you can until the whistle went and not taking your head up.

“If we scored, you ran back and tried to go again because it was very important to try and give us a chance, a small chance to go down there and beat France. It will be very tough but hopefully it puts us in a position where winning the game will be enough.

“I think the key to winning any tournament is you need to be playing better at the end of it than you were at the start. If you look at any World Cup or Heineken Cup and you look at the teams that are winning it, they are better at the end of it than they were at the start.

“So far, certain parts of our game have improved every week and then there have been a few parts that were up and down.

“We got stripped a few times of the ball when we shouldn’t have. Italy went the length after one of them and that kind of thing against France won’t work.

“I think (against France) we need to tie in everything and show we’re better in all aspects that we’ve been working on, and then really let it out. Teams watch you every week as well, so you need to improve. Otherwise they will get a handle on you.”

The Irish scrumhalf accepts that the mercurial French are capable of producing great highs or plumbing the depths in performance terms and even they’re not sure which incarnation will turn up. Reddan admitted: “One thing I will say about the way we are playing, you would always be confident in what you are going to deliver but I think (French) unpredictability is the big thing. You just don’t know how well they are going to play.

“You would have confidence in the squad. There is no big picture you need to worry about, you just deliver your role. That’s what we will do (in Paris). I wouldn’t be worrying about us delivering. Obviously we have to deal with what they bring as well.”

And what of the Brian O’Driscoll factor as he takes a final bow in a green jersey? “Brian’s story for the squad will start at the final whistle next Saturday if we do it.

That’s got to be the biggest way to pay respect to his career for us is to focus on delivering that bit of silverware.

‘Deliver next week’
“So that today is for the fans and for everyone to appreciate him, but for us there is no point in clapping him off if we don’t deliver next week. I’m pretty sure if we didn’t deliver Brian would have two very clear memories of the last two weeks of his career: one would be the great day today and the other would be a very bad day next Saturday and we don’t want that to happen.”