Thursday, January 21, 2016

Champions cup, Irish squad, and citings show ref pushing and gouging are out, while goolie grabbing and biting still make our game great!

 CJ Stander
 Mr MOTM CJ Stander

Joe Schmidt named his 35 man squad yesterday, and no better man as his captain than Rory Best, a man who never gives anything less than everything. Lack of age and experience was no barrier to getting into the squad, which means places for Van Der Flier and Dillane. There’s a few players who missed out, probably Sherry and Matt Healy. But at the end of the day, there’s a lot of players who will be cut from this anyway, all the main players are in there. The two I’m hoping to see in the match day squad if not starting are Stander and McCloskey, what team couldn’t do without their work rate and commitment?

Then in the Champions Cup, this is the last weekend of the pools, with places still up for grabs. Lots of citings from last weekend, and it looks pushing the ref and eye gouging are a no no, while goolie grabbing and biting still form part of the fabric that makes our game great!

Ulster welcome Oyannax to Belfast, a team 13th in the Top 14, hoping to milk 5 points, get to 18 and squeak into the playoffs. As they are Ireland’s sole hope now, let’s hope they do! I think they can get 5 points, whether that is enough remains to be seen.

Leinster have to travel to Wasps, who need to win this, even a simple win will probably see them home. They were desperately unlucky to lose to Toulon last week – to Leinster’s advantage, that game will at least have softened up Wasps nicely. It’ll be interesting to see who Leo Cullen picks – he’ll probably go with youth again, there’s nothing but pride for Leinster here, and why would you risk your stars for nothing? I’d so love to see Leinster win, but I think Wasps have this.

Munster face Treviso, which won’t be a proper contest, and I hope Munster pick their young guns and give them a chance to shine.

Finally, Connacht face RC Enisei, and you’d have to think they have their number. This could be Connacht’s whole season. To get through, they need a bonus point, and hope Brive either lose or don’t get a bonus point. It’s all in the balance, but you can see it happening!

Ireland Six Nations squad
Forwards: Rory Best (c), Sean Cronin, James Cronin, Ultan Dillane, Tadhg Furlong, Jamie Heaslip (vc), Rob Herring, Mike McCarthy, Jack McGrath, Martin Moore, Sean O'Brien, Tommy O'Donnell, Rhys Ruddock, Donnacha Ryan, CJ Stander, Richardt Strauss, Devin Toner, Josh van der Flier, Nathan White.
Backs: Keith Earls, Luke Fitzgerald, Robbie Henshaw, Paddy Jackson, David Kearney, Rob Kearney, Ian Madigan, Kieran Marmion, Luke Marshall, Stuart McCloskey, Conor Murray, Jared Payne, Eoin Reddan, Jonathan Sexton, Andrew Trimble, Simon Zebo.

Saturday, January 22   
Glasgow Warriors v    Racing 92     5:30 PM
Stade Toulousain v    Saracens     1:00 PM
Ulster v    Oyonnax     1:00 PM
Bath Rugby v    Toulon     3:15 PM
Wasps v    Leinster     3:15 PM
Scarlets v    Northampton Saints     5:30 PM
Sunday, January 24   
Benetton Treviso v    Munster     1:00 PM
Stade Français Paris v    Leicester Tigers     1:00 PM
Clermont Auvergne v    Bordeaux Begles     3:15 PM
Exeter Chiefs v    Ospreys     3:15 PM

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