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Blacks and Blues

• To those with eyes to see, Leinster have shown the way forward for the Irish national team by proving that an Irish team can play to that standard and mentality.

With this in mind, one can imagine how my heart sank when I read the squad announcement for Ireland's upcoming tour to face the All Blacks in a very rare and opportunity-rich three-Test series in New Zealand.

Despite his inspired leadership and warrior-like presence, Leinster captain Leo Cullen has been deemed surplus to requirements by Ireland head coach Declan Kidney.

For this crucial tour (which will not be repeated again for another 12 years), Mr Kidney has instead preferred the under-performing old hand Donncha O'Callaghan and the player who was bested by Mr Cullen in the Heineken Cup final: Ulster's Dan Tuohy.

Both of these second-rows have been chosen ahead of the captain of arguably the greatest rugby team in European club history. I would ask Mr Kidney's bosses at the IRFU: has Leo Cullen not earned his place in the first XV of the Irish national team and why is your chosen head coach unable (or unwilling) to see this?

It is abundantly clear to me that if the Irish national team is to progress and develop to its potential, as Leinster are doing under the inspired leadership of Joe Schmidt and the Leinster Branch, then this Leinster team must form the foundation of the Irish national team at this time.

The IRFU's Declan Kidney, however, is determined to ignore this reality and to pretend that it does not exist.

This also raises questions as to how seriously Mr Kidney is preparing to take the upcoming opportunity against the New Zealand All Blacks; judging by his selections for the tour, Mr Kidney is accepting international defeat in advance. In my view, not only is his apparent approach the polar opposite of how Leinster would approach things, but it may also prove to be a grave insult to our New Zealand hosts, who are expecting a tour challenge commensurate with Irish rugby's domination of northern hemisphere club rugby.

Realistically, if Ireland are to achieve a first-ever Test victory over the All Blacks (which I, as a travelling supporter, will be desperately seeking), the all-conquering Leinster team will have to form the backbone of our challenge. But, as the old saying goes, "there is none so blind as he who refuses to see".

John B Reid
Monkstown, Co Dublin

Irish Independent