Monday 26 September 2016

Ronan O'Gara strongly disagrees with George Hook's cry for mass changes to Irish team

Tom Rooney

Published 19/02/2016 | 11:40

Garry Ringrose and (inset) Hook and O'Gara
Garry Ringrose and (inset) Hook and O'Gara

Ronan O’Gara is adamant that next week in Twickenham is neither the time nor place for Joe Schmidt to throw some of Ireland’s brightest prospects into the crucible of test rugby.

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As Ireland’s dream of securing an unprecedented three successive Championships lay in tatters on the drenched Parisian turf, it was perhaps the performance that rankled most and not the fact that they had allowed a decidedly average French side pick their pocket.

In the immediate aftermath of the 10-9 loss, there was a resumption of the klaxon call for Joe Schmidt to not only expand the offensive blueprint which had accrued two Six Nations crowns, but to make a raft of personnel and positional changes to Ireland’s misfiring back line for the clash with Eddie Jones’ England.

In his post match analysis during the exclusive live streaming on Independent.ie, George Hook lambasted Schmidt and agitated for a vastly different selection.

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"If he is true to any kind of rugby belief, and I’m not sure he is; he has to put Payne to full-back, Henshaw at inside centre, and Ringrose at outside centre and he has Madigan at out half. There’s nothing to lose now. Madigan, Henshaw, Ringrose, Payne at full back, then you have flair, then you have an attack,” he said.

However, his fellow Corkonian and pundit Ronan O’Gara, is inclined to disagree. Writing today in the Irish Examiner, the Ireland and Munster legend stated that it would be downright negligible and of no benefit to anyone were such a shift to occur. Most notably for Garry Ringrose, who has acquired minimal experience, even at the elite club level.

“You start throwing young fellas like Ringrose and McCloskey in and let’s argue that Ireland get a trimming. First off, you’ve let down every Irish rugby person around the world who is proud of their national team.

“And that’s to say nothing of what it would do to the confidence of the rookie talents Ireland could introduce. Is a backs-against-the-wall mindset really the best place to be putting in a callow youngster like Garry Ringrose?

“There are no greenhorns playing international rugby. There are many playing domestic or Pro 12 league, and there are a few even playing Champions Cup, but there are none at international level playing among the top eight countries.”

Furthermore, the Racing Metro coach went on the claim that, while he doesn’t expect an Irish victory in Twickenham, he’s not particularly blown away by Eddie Jones’ nascent tenure.

“I don’t think we have the personnel to win, especially with Sean O’Brien out. But I wouldn’t be worried about playing the current English team. It’s the same horse with a different jockey. The same group Ireland have been playing and beating for years.”

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