Thursday, October 27, 2016

Pro 12 derbies, and Luke and those foreign imports...

 Luke Fitzgerald

Friday night has a revitalised Munster traveling to Belfast to take on Ulster. There's huge mutual respect, huge marks of respect between the teams, but this all has to be put aside because you can only play to win. It's going to be close, Munster has a better scrum, slightly, while Ulster has a better backline. For me, home advantage will see Ulster win.

Leinster will have a big job on their hands to beat Connacht, out of all the Irish teams, who do you think Connacht want to beat the most? Leinster has the squad depth to cope with losing a lot of internationals, while Connacht are stressed with not having their internationals, especially adding in the injury to Tiernan O'Halloran. Again home advantage should see Leinster squeeze home. I hope!

Finally, a word on Luke and his dislike of the so called project players, and how he hated to see one of them picked for Ireland ahead of him. I like Luke, always have, and he had a tough time of it with injuries, and he certainly has the right to speak his mind. So I'm not having a go at him, just breaking down some of the things he's said. At the last world cup there was 135 players not born in the country they were playing for. That's a bit suspect because in the Irish squad Heaslip was born in Israel and Jordi Murphy in Spain so they are in the 135. But there is a lot of swopping around of nationalities, no doubt about it.

I guess the problem is that we are just catching up with what other countries have been doing all along - New Zealand and Australia have been making merry with South Sea players for ages. So if they stop picking Samoans, we'll follow their lead...eventually like. We don't have a million players to pick from in the first place either.

Secondly, moving over here is no guarantee of success for anyone. For every CJ Stander and Jared Payne, there's a Robbie Diack and Michael Bent - to whom news of automatic success for southern hemisphere players would come as some surprise.

And then who the coach picks - there's a lot that goes in to it - who's the best player in that position, who does he combine best with, what player in the team is he going to be marking, is he in form, can he handle the pressure. Maybe there were project players better than Luke in the form he was in, better for that match against that team, who knows. Maybe someone worked harder in training.

Also talking about selection - when he got picked - was there ever an Ulster player who felt Luke was getting picked because he was a Leinster player? I'm not saying that happened, but a lot could go  through your head when you're not being picked.

So project players - in my opinion - are fine in moderation. We are making loads of great homegrown players of our own too.

Friday, October 28       
Ulster v Munster 7:05 PM
Cardiff Blues v    Scarlets 7:35 PM
Glasgow Warriors v Benetton Treviso 7:35 PM
Edinburgh v Zebre 7:35 PM
Saturday, October 29       
Ospreys v Dragons 3:00 PM
Leinster v Connacht 5:15 PM

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