Saturday 18 November 2017

Prop deficit amazes Fitzpatrick

Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

SEAN FITZPATRICK has been there and done it all and you get the impression not much leaves him bewildered.

But the legendary former All Blacks captain cannot for the life of him understand why Irish rugby has gotten itself into a position where the national team is so reliant on Mike Ross.

The Leinster tight-head pulled his hamstring in Sunday's Pro12 final and is now a doubt for the first Test in New Zealand on Saturday week and, if he doesn't make it, Declan Kidney's men are in deep trouble.

An injury to Ross during Ireland's Six Nations defeat to England had devastating consequences and if he wasn't to make it this time around, the world champions would fancy their chances against an international novice in Ulster's Declan Fitzpatrick.

"I find it hard to believe that you have not found a prop in Ireland -- you've got two props, basically," Fitzgerald said yesterday.

"You only have to look at what happened at Twickenham and it just amazes me. Australia went through the same issue, they went away and still aren't the greatest scrummaging team but they've found props. They've got three or four guys who can play Test rugby now."

Fitzpatrick questioned the merits of having overseas players filling positions that could be used for the development of young Irish players.

"It just amazes me," he said. "You have to ask, is John Afoa the best thing for Irish rugby? In New Zealand we would not allow that. We would not let Cian Healy come from Ireland to play for the (Auckland) Blues, because it's not good for All Blacks rugby."

Fitzpatrick is expecting a clean sweep for the world champions when the sides meet for the three-Test series. "I'd be disappointed if they didn't win three," he said. "That's not putting pressure on the All Blacks, they have a team that is very capable. But I think Ireland will run them pretty close. That's the attitude Ireland need to take into it."

Irish Independent

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