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Omission of Mullins Purely A Rugby Thing
5 May 2003, 10:30 am
The Irish tour party for the trip to the southern hemisphere has assembled in Dublin and will depart for Australia in two lots this coming Thursday and Friday.
The Irish tour party for the trip to the southern hemisphere has assembled in Dublin and will depart for Australia in two lots this coming Thursday and Friday.

The withdrawal of Anthony Foley from the Ireland tour party to brings the Munster representation to 11 and also points up the sort of absentees that can be expected from the Munster squad for the start of next season and in particular the Celtic League and Cup. The players who will travel to Australia in a week's time - Ronan O'Gara, Peter Stringer, Rob Henderson, John Kelly, Anthony Horgan, Frank Sheahan, Marcus Horan, Paul O'Connell, Donncha O'Callaghan, Alan Quinlan and David Wallace - can all reasonably be expected to be on the plane when the World Cup squad departs later in the year.

Add in Foley and John Hayes (Jeremy Staunton ?) and it means that the only players of those who featured in the last game of the season, the Heineken Cup semi-final, who will be available to Munster for the Celtic League will be Jim Williams understandably, and Mike Mullins unbelievably

The situation regarding Mullins and his standing - or lack of morelike - within the national framework continues to confound. If it is to be argued that he has passed by international level then, besides Brian O'Driscoll, who de we have in this country right now who poses a bigger threat in attack at 13.

Agree or disagree, surely he was worth inclusion in the initial squad that was selected for the National Trial game held recently in Lanasdowne Road. He eventually played in that game - the night before he played for Old Crescent in the League final - when he was called in as a replacement. He probably felt aggrieved at being overlooked initially, and perhaps agreed to play in an attempt to rekindle the interest of the national selectors. That night he was one of the liveliest contributors and yet when the the 41 strong tour sqaud to Australia was announced there was no M Mullins.

To add insult to injury when the teams for last Fridays game were announced there was no mention of M Mullins except as a replacement on the Whites side. Unbelievable. Interestingly, the 13 on the Whites side that night was John Kelly who played most of his rugby for Munster this year on the wing with Mullins on his inside shoulder. The 13 on the Colours side was Gavin Duffy who isn't included in the Summer tour squad and whose international career is thought to have floundered following his move to Harlequins..

As mystifying as the exclusion of Mullins is, the comment from coach Eddie O'Sullivan as reported in The Irish Times beggars belief. O'Sulivan said that the omission of Mullins was "purely a rugby thing. The guy hasn't done anything wrong, I can assure you of that." And then in a stroke of master understatement, the Ireland coach went on to say " I know people might be a bit confused by it" before explaining that " I have to consider whether a player gives us our best option at 13 at test rugby level".

All perfectly well but what about the situation at number 10. Mark McHugh is named at 10 on the training side and is included in the Tour squad. So can it be taken that McHugh who plays second fiddle to 34 year old Eric Elwood for his province is then an option at ten for test rugby ?.

And there are other examples where the 'best option' might lead to people being 'a bit confused.' But the case of Mullins who 'hasn't done anything wrong' and whose omisssion is 'purely a rugby thing.' confuses the most.

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