Tuesday 23 January 2018

Kidney's coach speak fails to disguise folly of Stringer omission

Saturday View

Sean Diffley

"A statement or report circulating, the truth of which there is no clear evidence." That's the definition of rumour, a commodity that is spreading like wildfire on the eve of the selection of the squad to represent this green and misty isle in next month's Rugby World Cup.

I've given up on Declan Kidney, who engages in a profluence of English that reveals nothing.

According to my grapevine, Peter Stringer is to be jettisoned, which means he is not considered to be in the top three scrum-halves in Ireland.

Kidney is quoted as responding to a press query that "with Peter's skill level and the balance that you would maybe need to bring to in your No 9 position, he would be very much in the frame".

What in heaven's name does that mean? The balance that you would maybe need? What on earth? A scrum-half needs balance and not, surely, "maybe" needs?

Anyway, I don't believe the Irish coach. All the indications are that a decision has been made and Stringer is out in the cold.

And not many will agree with such a decision. In these pages, Hugh Farrelly wrote: "Stringer remains the quickest passer available to Kidney and still one of the swiftest and most accurate in the world game."

I reckon this view will find a favourable reaction among most Irish followers.

We've all seen Stringer introduced in late stages from the bench and have seen that clear improvement in providing possession for the back division.

And the point, obviously, is the value of giving one of the best back divisions in the world game opportunities to provide dividends. With such as Brian O'Driscoll, Gordon D'Arcy, Tommy Bowe, Ronan O'Gara and Jonny Sexton, the potential is clear-cut.

There are very good scrum-halves available -- I would rank Isaac Boss a bit higher than the coach does -- and changes can be made for the matches with the USA and Russia.

And today, and the French at Aviva? Could we please, on our bended knees, appeal to the imposers of tactics to change and battle for a larger quota of possession? That Scotland at Murrayfield and France in Bordeaux should be gifted by a monopoly of possession is a great puzzle.

There is something very wrong in the Irish approach, a seeming acceptance that defending is sufficient. Such tactics won't get us far in the World Cup.

And one other thing -- could the rest of us appeal for a change in the Peter Stringer decision?

Irish Independent

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