Sunday 23 September 2018

Neil Francis: Joe Schmidt got one of his big selection decisions wrong

Dan Leavy starts on the bench in France
Dan Leavy starts on the bench in France

When asked if he could pick one player for Ireland from the other Six Nations teams, Neil Francis was forthright: "We don't need anyone."

The former Ireland international has full confidence in Joe Schmidt's men going into the 2018 Six Nations which kicks off away to France on Saturday.

But Francis does have one concern about Schmidt's starting 15 for that Paris showdown - there is no Dan Leavy.

Josh van der Flier got the nod at openside and speaking on Independent.ie's The Left Wing LIVE in association with Aer Lingus tonight, Francis says that was the one call the Ireland coach got wrong.  

"I'm kind of surprised. The modern game is won at the breakdown and it depends what sort of backrow (you have). You look at the home back row and the lack of cohesion there," Francis told hosts Luke Fitzgerald and Will Slattery.

"(Jacques) Brunel has picked three guys who don't even know each other's names at this stage and that's a major problem. Who gets over the ball?

"I think in terms of what Van der Flier does well. His tackling stats broke world records. I just think Leavy, you look back at his performance in the Munster game and what he did over the ball, the carries, his ability to close down space, his aggression, his speed and his game nous and game management.

"I just think Van der Flier is a little bit more limited. I would have thought that 55-60 minutes for Leavy...I think he is going to be a superstar, a 60-70 capper if he can keep himself fit.

"But we don't know. We are outside of the squad and they see who is playing well, they see how they train and they have made a call and Joe is very rarely wrong."

You can watch the full episode below:

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