Sunday 17 December 2017

Mallett's hammer blow for 'risk-averse' Ireland

Former Springbok and Azzurri coach Nick Mallett. Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images
Former Springbok and Azzurri coach Nick Mallett. Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images
David Kelly

David Kelly

Former Springbok and Azzurri coach Nick Mallett is picking up a few quid for helping Accenture to analyse the RBS

Six Nations and he hasn't been shy about putting the boot in - as his Ireland verdict demonstrates.

"If Ireland are to have any hope of beating the English, they too will have to exhibit more creativity, for while they are clearly a well-organised side, they are also painfully risk-averse," says Mallett.

"Just look at their lateral attacks. They always go sideways, instead of forward, and so find it difficult to gain any real momentum."

Sligo duo broaden Carolan's horizons

Irish rugby's widening geographical reach will extend even further tomorrow when two Sligo men will seek to kick-start Ireland U20s' Six Nations campaign.

Scrum-half Stephen Kerins makes his first Championship start, having been used as a replacement in the opening two games, while Conán O'Donnell returns at tighthead to supplant Conor Kenny.

Coach Nigel Carolan has made five changes to his side who will commit to their expressive game-plan; after all, it may be the only chance they will get before the grinding realities of the senior game.

Ireland u-20 (v England) - J Power; H Keenan, S Daly, J O'Brien, C O'Brien; J McPhillips, S Kerins; A Porter, A McBurney, C O'Donnell, P Claffey, J Ryan, C Gallagher, W Connors, G Jones. Reps: S Fenton, J Bollard, B Betts, S O'Connor, K Brown, J Poland, B Connon, M Byrne.

Tricky Twickers omens

England are yet to concede a try in the opening two rounds of the 2016 Six Nations - the last time that happened they won a Grand Slam, in 1991.

Only two other sides have achieved this before, France eventually conceding a try after 201 minutes in 2000 (although England would pip them to the title) and Ireland (217) minutes in 2014, when they did go on to lift the trophy.

Ireland are, of course, without a win in the opening two rounds in 2016 - the first time this has occurred in the Championship since they were 'whitewashed' in 1998.

Quote of the day

"All Ireland will be thinking this is how they can ruin our party. We have no plans to let them do that."

- England captain Dylan Hartley who has never been averse to spoiling quite the few birthday parties himself . . .

Number of the day

42 CJ Stander has the most carries in the Championship, although he will hope to make more yardage on Saturday than he did in Paris.

Compiled by David Kelly

Irish Independent

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