Roger Wilson bursts through a gap for Northampton. The two-time Ulster Player of the Year has returned to his home province, having spent four busy years with the Saints. It will be interesting to see if his performances in the white No8 jersey can push him forward for international contention, or if there’s too much track worn off the tires.
Roger Wilson: since making his debut for Ulster as a 21-year old in September 2002, the Belfast-born No8 has played an enormous amount of professional rugby. In five seasons with Ulster he played 116 games [101 starts] and since moving to Northampton at the end of the 2007-08 season he hasn’t let up, playing 117 games [108 starts] for the Saints. In total, he has played 46 Heineken Cup games, all but one of them from kick-off.
How many tests for Ireland has he played? One. Against Japan. Seven years ago. Continue reading →
Sure, there are a lot of moving parts in a team and they all have to do their job, but some are more vital than others.
Many moons ago, when the Mole was a nipper and student transport offered only two options – the heel-toe express or the push bike – to get to training or school or any of the other ‘priorities’ of our young lives, he learned all about the linchpin. Uniquely shaped [square at the top and tapering smoothly within its two inches to a round threaded base], the linchpin connected the crank-arm of the pedal through the centre of the big cogs of the front chain ring to the joint of the frame where the seat tube met the down tube. It seemed insignificant in the overall use of a bicycle: it wasn’t a wheel which covered the ground, and it wasn’t a pedal which took the weight. But without a linchpin, the bike wouldn’t go. You couldn’t apply power and you couldn’t cover ground. Continue reading →
O’Connell and Heaslip: how’s about you do your job, and I do my job?
It’s strange to say that somebody who’s only winning his second cap could teach somebody who has been to three World Cups and two Lions Tours a thing or two, but one of the odd pleasures of this second test was not seeing Paul O’Connell carry static, one-out ball into contact and go to ground. Brodie Retallick didn’t get on the ball much: he just went around charging into rucks and bashing things. Continue reading →
He's got the qualification but can he spread the word?
After looking at Graham Henry’s Prefects and the ‘ideal’ number of caps (660) that a championship team should have, we thought we’d have a look at Ireland and how the numbers fitted the team. Can Graham Henry’s policy be replicated in other situations or is he simply fortunate to come from a country with a great rugby culture and a comparatively large player base?
Stephen Ferris: Bueller… anyone, Bueller? The injury plagued Ulster man rivals Luke Fitzgerald and the camera shy Donncha O’Callaghan for media utterances. It was his form in this World Cup that created the headlines. Ferris is a very talented athlete who hasn’t consistently produced at the international level. In this tournament he showed good ball skills as well as some feats of power that few players could match. His tackle on Genia was iconic while his hit on Castrogiovanni brought the battle to the Italians. The Welsh stopped him with some great tackles and stopped Ireland. Continue reading →