Saturday 16 December 2017

George Hook: Ireland play with a 1.2 litre engine, everybody else plays with a 2.2

Joe Schmidt
Joe Schmidt

The team has been named for Ireland's penultimate Six Nations game against Italy this weekend, and Joe Schmidt has gone with his old favourites to secure the campaign's first win.

Jared Payne returns to the team at outside centre with Stuart McCloskey dropping out of the 23 entirely while Simon Zebo has been chosen as the replacement for the injured Rob Kearney.

The out of form Fergus McFadden getting the final bench slot ahead of the rampaging Ulster centre is sure to anger many fans who had hoped the selection for the England game signalled a shift towards a more expansive game plan.

George Hook is one pundit who feels that the Irish boss is incapable of deviating away from his previously successful game plan built on kicking, rucking, one-out runners and defensive pressure.

Speaking after Ireland's loss to England on the's stream, Hook foreshadowed Schmidt's selection for the Italy game by indicating that the coach would be resistant to changing his strategy.

"We won't do it [change the game plan] and then we'll go to South Africa [for the summer tour] and we won't do it because that's not in this man's [Joe Schmidt] nature."

"It's a bit of a cliché," he continued.

"About the leopard and his spots. We're not in a tailspin, we're just going to play a game this is old fashioned."

Hook has long been a critic of Schmidt's - even calling for his resignation early on into his Leinster tenure after a couple of Pro12 defeats - and he used a vehicular analogy to hammer home his point on Ireland's play.

"We'll be there in a motor car with a 1.2 litre engine and everybody else will be playing with a 2.2 litre engine - that's the difference," he said.

"This is simple. There are two ways of playing this game; there is a very narrow way, which is that you don't take risks and you hope you get a try and a couple of kicks or you play with flair."

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