Monday 22 January 2018

Line-up shows Schmidt's intent

James Coughlan (right) is unlucky to have been overlooked by Joe Schmidt
James Coughlan (right) is unlucky to have been overlooked by Joe Schmidt

Denis Leamy

It is obvious from the number of experienced players who have been included that Joe Schmidt is taking the tour to Argentina very seriously and with an eye towards building momentum for the World Cup.

Bringing players like Rory Best, Jamie Heaslip, Jonny Sexton and Paul O'Connell illustrates the approach he is taking to the two-match tour, but at the same time there is an opportunity for some players to stake a claim.

There is a good Munster representation although I was disappointed that James Coughlan was again overlooked, while Tommy O'Donnell's stock took another blow.

I wonder just how much damage was done to his confidence when he was dropped from the replacements' bench during the Six Nations.

I had experience myself of that sort of setback. I had made my debut against the USA in November and then got a roasting from the media against Italy in the Six Nations and was dropped. I picked up an injury just after that and then lost my place at Munster.

Things can just go downwards like that and I hope they turn quickly for Tommy. Perhaps it might happen in Bucharest.

This is a huge opportunity for Simon Zebo. He has been brought back in and I think he needs to use every minute of the tour on the field, in training, in the gym and everywhere else to make an impression.

It will also be a big tour for the likes of Robbie Diack, while Rhys Ruddock is made for the Argentinians and he will be hoping to crown a great second half to the season.

I am sure Ian Madigan will be another who is keen to make an impression, having been initially overlooked.

Indo Sport

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