You’re Sound

He'll be airbrushing people out of team photos next

You’d imagine that Declan Kidney actually talks to his players some of the time. Is that just me? Am I way off?

At 34 years old, Leo Cullen – never a central figure in Declan Kidney’s Irish set-up – is not just past his prime, but actively engaged on negotiating the downward slope of his career. By picking him in his 24-strong Six Nations squad, DK has kindly put in place a few flags for him to slalom around, just in case it was getting boring.

Saint Deccie has put him in the awkward position of having to turn down “the opportunity to appear for his country” – we all know that that was never going to happen – in order to take advantage of the HEC break and have elective surgery on both Achilles tendons. Leo has gone on record [in his recently-published autobiography, which arrived at Mole Towers courtesy of one Father Christmas] about his long-standing issues with the condition, and it’s unlikely/impossible – the Mole is definitely leaning towards the latter – that the Irish medical and S&C team weren’t aware of it.

It would have been very, very easy to announce that Cullen wasn’t available for selection due to injury, just like Brian O’Driscoll, Denis Leamy, Niall Ronan etc. While he might be a respected member of the Irish set-up because of his age and his success as captain of Leinster, he’s a peripheral figure in match-day terms, superseded on the sub’s bench by Donnacha Ryan at the World Cup, and falling down The Mole’s depth chart of Irish second rows [it doesn’t count for much, EXCEPT FOR BEING ACCURATE, DAMMIT!] due to excellent performances from Ryan, Ulster’s Dan Tuohy, Connacht’s Mike McCarthy, his own Leinster team-mate Devin Toner and Bath’s Ryan Caldwell. It shouldn’t go unsaid that his own drop-off in form has been noticeable in comparison, although it must in part be down to his calcified tendons.

The point is that Ireland don’t need him to play. He probably shouldn’t be anywhere near the team on form. Sometimes you need to make a clean break with aging players, and, to The Mole at least, this seems like one of those occasions.

Picking him in the squad, when it was announced earlier in the day that he was going to be absent for 8-10 weeks recuperating from surgery, is either mind-blowingly crap communication or else a weird little exercise in one upmanship from Kidney, i.e. forcing Cullen to make the decision in public as to whether he has career-extending surgery to benefit his Leinster career or puts it on hold to answer Ireland’s call [so to speak]. Either way, it’s p*ss-poor management – hooray!

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5 thoughts on “You’re Sound

  1. 1) luke fitz in the wolfhounds – in the form he is in?
    2) only 3 props in the squad? kinda makes a mockery of the IRFU’s demands on the provinces
    3) is earls fit? if not why is he in the squad?
    4) is paddy wallace really required? whilst in form, is he going to start or is he a long term prospect? I’d imagine he is 3rd in line at inside centre at present after darcy and mcfadden and considering darcy has as many days left as wallace, should another option at 12 not be included for development purposes?

    5) if ireland under perform at the six nations will kidney’s time be up?

  2. Tate, I believe the Ulster-based syndicate of wealthy beef farmers are putting together a plot of their own, mostly as a reaction to Gilroy’s omission.

    McCannski, what can I say? When you’re right, you’re right.

    One can only hope that Kidney is trusting in the strong bonds forged over in New Zealand and thinks that the RWC11 squad have a tournament win in them. He needs to get off to a flier however, because we’ve got Wales up first at home and then France away … if we lose both of those [unquestionably a possibility, given recent results between the teams], the knives will be out for Saint Deccie of the Graven Selection Tablet.

  3. I can only suggest he was loathe to lose both Leo and Drico, two leaders in the RWC squad, for the Six Nations squad…? I’m sure his starting 22 already in place, and the locks will be POC, DOC and Ryan, with Leo (assuming he thought he would be fit enough to do so) acting as cover/cheer-leader. Which is a shame because I was getting rather excited about the form of Toner, Tuohy, Caldwell etc. …

  4. Picking Cullen, knowing he would be unavailable, is the kind of shite PR spin we expect from Deccie. Truth is, Cullen has very little to offer the Irish setup that it doesn’t already have. DOC’s days are also numbered, but I have to say I’d have been amazed to see him drop out of the 22 altogether. His demotion from starter to sub (assuming Ryan starts) is the beginning of the end, but not the end.

    Toner isn’t a logical partner for POC, nor a logical sub. POC will stay on unless he’s injured, so you need a No. 4 on the bench. McCarthy or Tuohy are probably fighting with DOC for that spot over the next couple of seasons. Caldwell won’t get a look in unless he moves back. Toner will only be a consideration if POC isn’t available.

    Luke is in the Wolfhounds game for match time. If he plays well, he’s still not guaranteed of a matchday squad spot, because of the problem of who will play 13, the shortage of FBs and which No. 22 will best cover the back positions.

    If Earls plays 13, for example, then McFadden would almost certainly be the sub, as there’s wing/FB cover from Earls and Ferg can cover 11/12/13/14. Fitz won’t make it.

    If McFadden plays 13, then it’s a question of which two left wings and No.22’s give you the best combo. I’m guessing McFadden and Earls will start at 13 and 11 respectively and it’s a shootout between Fitz and Trimble for 22. I’d go Trimble, but I can see a case for Fitz too.

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