Tuesday 23 January 2018

Byrne calls for fresh start at tight-head

"It takes a while to adjust to international rugby, it's a different level, a different tempo and there's also the need to get used to the sense of occasion and exposure that comes with it," said Byrne.

"I definitely think Buckley has what it takes, he has the physique, the power and the ability but there are question marks about his attitude.

"I don't know the guy personally but he comes across as a very laid-back individual and I really think Ireland need to put someone on him, a mentor, someone who knows what it takes, knows scrummaging and will keep at him to keep working and keep improving.

"Not necessarily Gert Smal. He has responsibility for the pack as a unit and can't focus his attentions on one player.

"But there are guys out there who could mentor Buckley if they were asked. Reggie Corrigan springs to mind, then there is Dan McFarland over in Connacht or Paul McCarthy who has done great work with the Munster scrum in the past.

"But it's not going to work if Buckley is not getting his game for Munster and this is the problem. Ideally, you would have Buckley and Tom Court both starting at tight-head for their provinces and putting each other under pressure in an Irish context.

"But Court is at loose-head for Ulster and Buckley is on the bench for Munster.

"Then you have Mike Ross, third-choice tight-head for Leinster behind two overseas guys.

"There is an extent to which Tony McGahan at Munster and Declan Kidney with Ireland are flogging John Hayes, almost on a 'one more time' basis and that could come back to bite them.

"Now is the time to start someone else at tight-head."

Irish Independent

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