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“I care not if he is skilled, but is he lucky?”

7th March 2008 By Munster Rugby

“I care not if he is skilled, but is he lucky?”

In the end Eddie O’Sullivan was spared the decision of choosing between Girvan Dempsey and Geordan Murphy, injury removing both from the equation and the new alignment caused by those withdrawals, of Shane Horgan on the wing and Robert Kearney at full back may work in the coaches favour.

When you look a how things have gone for O’Sullivan since the French game one is reminded of Napolean Bonaparte’s remark on hearing of the merits of one of his generals,  “I care not if he is skilled, but is he lucky?”

Given the way things went in this year’s RBS Six Nations – a patchy opener followed by defeat in France – what better third match than Scotland at home with a selection decided to some degree by injury and a victory determined by the excellence of individuals such as, among others, Ronan O’Gara, Brian O’Driscoll, Donncha O’Callaghan and the player omitted from the original 22, Geordan Murphy. 

The momentum built up by that flogging of the Scots gained an added impetus when Paul O’Connell came through the full Magners League encounter with Cardiff Blues and if it were a surprise that the Limerickman supplanted Mick O’Driscoll – who had an excellent showing when he came on as a replacement, – if O’Sullivan’s luck holds then O’Connell will have a stormer and exert a major influence on the outcome of this game.

The Welsh may just not be all they’re cracked up to be. England lost rather than Wales won the opening game. Nothing can be read into their game with Scotland and the scoreline against Italy flattered the actual performance.

Then there is the animosity between the respective coaches. And therein lies probably the key to this game. Players will say differently but in this climate they will want to do it for their coach. O’Sullivan has been around  some while now, Gatland is new. Its just possible he may not have built up a sufficient rapport, an esprit de corps strong enough to conquer that of the Irish.

But it’s going to be cracker.

R Kearney (Leinster); S Horgan (Leinster), B O’Driscoll (Leinster, capt), A Trimble (Ulster), T Bowe (Ulster); R O’Gara (Munster), E Reddan (Wasps); M Horan (Munster), R Best (Ulster), J Hayes (Munster), D O’Callaghan (Munster), P O’Connell (Munster), D Leamy (Munster), D Wallace (Munster), J Heaslip (Leinster).
Replacements: B Jackman (Leinster), T Buckley (Munster), M O’Driscoll (Munster), S Easterby (Scarlets), P Stringer (Munster), P Wallace (Ulster), L Fitzgerald (Leinster).

Wales: L Byrne (Ospreys); M Jones (Scarlets), T Shanklin (Blues), G Henson (Ospreys), S Williams (Ospreys); S Jones (Scarlets), M Phillips (Ospreys); G Jenkins (Blues), H Bennett (Ospreys), A Jones (Ospreys), I Gough (Ospreys), AW Jones (Ospreys), J Thomas (Ospreys), M Williams (Blues), R Jones (Ospreys, capt).
M Rees (Scarlets), D Jones (Ospreys), I Evans (Ospreys), G Delve (Gloucester), D Peel (Scarlets), J Hook (Ospreys), S Parker (Ospreys).

Referee: Wayne Barnes (England).

I care not if he is skilled, but is he lucky?”
– Napoleon Bonaparte


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