Ireland Second Rows in 2016 – The Post-Paul O’Connell Era

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Donnacha Ryan and Devin Toner celebrate Ireland’s victory over the All Blacks in Chicago. They’re neither the most complementary second row partnership that Ireland have fielded in the professional era, nor the most individually talented locks, but they’ve succeeded where more illustrious pairings have failed.

Given the number of headlines sent to print and the variety of plaudits doled out for Ireland’s performances in November, it has been telling that very few of those made a hero of Devin Toner, one of only two Irish players to have gone the full 80 minutes in the three games against Southern Hemisphere opposition.  Continue reading

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Chopper

Gatland has difficult choices ahead of him in terms of filling the backrow positions for the first test ... but he'll probably have even more sleepless nights over the same issue before the second test

Gatland has difficult choices ahead of him in terms of filling the backrow positions for the first test … but he’ll probably have even more sleepless nights over the same issue before the second test.

Judging by how Warren Gatland has been selecting his Lions teams thus far, there’s a strong chance that the lad who played the least rugby of anybody in the squad during the 2012-13 regular season [a mere 584 minutes, and all of them in the Pro12 for a perennial basement outfit] could be the first name on the teamsheet for the most important game of the tour.  Continue reading