Eight Munster Players in Ireland Side ?
8th November 2005 By Munster Rugby
The Munster representation in Lansdowne Road on Saturday should number eight when the squad to face the All Blacks is named later today.
In the absence of Brian O’Driscoll and Paul O’Connell, Ireland coach Eddie O’Sullivan is lilkely to name Anthony Foley as captain of the side to face the All Blacks when he announces his match 22 this afternoon.
Foley should be one of seven Munster players in the starting XV and that number could rise to eight were Denis Leamy preferred to Johnny O’Connor at open-side flanker. And if Simon Easterby is ruled out then O’Sullivan should stick Leamy in at six, a position he did so well in against Castres a fortnight ago.
The easiest choice for O’Sullivan and the first name he will pencil in will be Ronan O’Gara because any hope the coach entertains of downing the Blacks will involve the Munster ten. And O’Gara will be paired at half-back with Peter Stringer while Anthony Horgan should be named on the wing .
Up front, Marcus Horan and John Hayes should occupy the prop berths with Donncha O’Callaghan just behind his Munster colleagues and Foley anchoring the scrum.
O’Sullivan will no doubt have been immmensely cheered by help received from former England/Lion player Jeremy Guscott in the immediate aftermath of the Blacks’ demolition of Wales at the weekend. Guscott effectively handed O’Sullivan the blueprint to defeat the Blacks in his Sunday newspaper column.
Writing in the Sunday Times (They are good, but here’s how to beat them), Guscott’s five pronged strategy involves targetting Byron Kelleher, concentrating on shaking up Tana Umaga and then – and here’s the really clever part that EO’S would never have dreamt of – focussing on three areas, the set-piece; the lineout and hallelujah, the breakdown.
But the word is that Tana won’t play, nor will Kelleher and you realise that Jeremy G’s actual point is that, “England have the physical clout to take it to the Blacks”.
But still, at least now we – and more importantly EO’S – knows. It’s set piece, lineout and breakdown.