The Left Wing: Bowe or Byrne? Luke Fitzgerald explains why Joe Schmidt went with experience over youth in his squad
With the Six Nations just under a fortnight away, Luke Fitzgerald had plenty to say about Joe Schmidt's 40-man squad and the state of the provinces after Leinster and Munster advanced to the quarter-finals of the Champions Cup as Ulster and Connacht bowed out.
Every Wednesday, The Left Wing features Luke's unique blend of analysis and opinion as he takes you inside the game to give an honest and informed assessment of the performance of the Ireland team and the four provinces.
In this week's episode, the former Leinster, Ireland and Lions star discusses Schmidt's decision to overlook Ian Madigan in his Six Nations squad and why there was a different set of rules for Johnny Sexton when he was at Racing 92.
"(Ian) will be really disappointed and in my own opinion, I'd have him in there. I think for preparation, guys would want to prepare against another outhalf," he said.
"I presume Johnny won't be included in training. He probably won't be able to train for the first week which is when they do a lot of preparation.
"That was an interesting one for me. I was a bit surprised by it."
Fitzgerald also dissects the decision to go with the experienced Tommy Bowe over the in-form Adam Byrne.
"I can't say I'm surprised, Tommy obviously unbelievable pedigree, he's a Lions winger and he's proven it again and again at the top level for Ireland that he belongs at that level," he said
"He's only coming back from injury and he's probably still searching for a little bit of form which you only get through playing so I'm a little but surprised in that respect but at the same time, I can see why he's opted for him.
"If Adam had been selected in the November internationals and had just a bit more exposure, even in training, and understood what was expected of him there then maybe he would have gone with him.
"A lot of things that Adam has done well over the past couple of weeks are things that Joe really likes.
"I'm thinking of the high-ball take against Montpellier for the (Jack) Conan try and some of his general play. He has been really exciting.
"Joe will have noticed these things and he is right there and in the future he will be there but at the moment I can see why Tommy is included."
Fitzgerald also looks at the improvements Leinster will need to make for their last eight clash with Wasps and how Munster can topple Toulouse at Thomond Park.
Watch Luke explain the situation with Madigan, the Byrne vs Bowe selection debate (above) and the full episode of The Left Wing below:
Six Nations coverage on the Left Wing, in association with Aer Lingus, the official airline to the Irish rugby team.
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