Tuesday 19 February 2019

'You need three playmakers' - Luke Fitzgerald puts forward idea to sort out Ireland's blunt attack

Could Jordan Larmour or Joey Carbery provide the necessary creativity?
Could Jordan Larmour or Joey Carbery provide the necessary creativity?
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Leinster and Ireland legend Luke Fitzgerald believes Joe Schmidt must use a ball-handler in the centre or at full-back if they are to pose more of a threat offensively.

Ireland enjoyed over 70pc possession and territory in the dramatic 15-13 win in Paris on Saturday but made zero line breaks, only beat 15 defenders and rarely looked like scoring a try against Les Bleus.

France set a new record for tackles made by a team in the Six Nations with 253 in the game while captain Guilhem Guirado equalled the highest number of tackles for an individual in a Six Nations encounter with 31. The record had been held by Wales' Luke Charteris who made the same number of tackles against Schmidt's Ireland in 2015.

Each of the top four team tackle tallies have come against the Ireland since Schmidt's arrival in 2013. Two of them came in a winning cause (Scotland last year and Wales in 2015). Had Sexton's miraculous drop-goal fallen short or sailed wide, France would have made it three.

Speaking on The Left Wing Live in association with Aer Lingus, Fitzgerald said he feels that Ireland need another creative force in the midfield outside of the half-back partnership.

Asked about the performance of centres Robbie Henshaw and Bundee Aki on Saturday, he said:  "They were probably a bit curtailed in that department with the conditions. I think it's a nice combination to have, very physical and you can build plays around those guys

"Both of them can handle the ball but with Joe's gameplan often it can be more direct. He is very collision-oriented. He likes to get momentum and I think he backs Conor Murray and Johnny Sexton to act as playmakers.

"What I think and you sometimes have seen it against Wales and France. When one of those guys is caught up in a breakdown you don't have that creativity. That's why Joey Carberry or someone else in the centre, a Chris Farrell, whoever it may be, you need one more playmaker. You need three playmakers there.

"Jared Payne is a good guy for that as well. It's either at full-back or one of the guys in the centre.

Asked if Joey Carbery should be given a chance at full-back against Italy, he added: "Rob Kearney had a really good game despite the mistake for Teddy Thomas' try. He was outstanding in the air and in a game like that it was something that the team could hangs its hat on.

"You knew he was reliable and that was big for the team.

"They do need to find another playmaker because otherwise without having a third pass option, you have Murray to Sexton but you need one other playmaker to give the defence a little bit of a decision in the outside channels and that's one thing that is making it difficult for Ireland to break other teams down even though they're having loads of possession."


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