I’d like to start this article by wishing Joe Schmidt a speedy recovery from his operation. Secondly I’d like to add an apology for the lack of Ireland coverage throughout the Autumn Internationals. An increased workload in my day job and a prearranged long, long, weekend away (plus increased recovery time) have been the main culprits!
However I have been tracking the performance of the Ireland players in this highly successful series and, unfortunately, it’s not exactly good news from an Ulster point of view.
Out of 34 players used, seven (21%) were from Ulster. These players had a total of 563 minutes (16%) on the pitch over the three games and when it came to the “big games” this dropped to three players clocking up 305 minutes (13%).
Of course, injuries to, and the availability of, Payne, Best, Henry, Trimble, Tuohy and Henderson had a big effect on Ulster player representation but I was disappointed that none of our front row forwards, with the exception of Best, got a look in, particularly as the IRFU’s Les Kiss was heavily involved with Ulster until October. However, given the results there is not a lot we can complain about!
The winners over the Autumn series appear to be Rhys Ruddock, Robbie Henshaw and Simon Zebo at the expense of Henry, Payne and Trimble respectively and I’m sure Cave and Olding will be disappointed that they didn’t get more game time over the series.
However, ten months out from the World Cup Ireland do look particularly well set, with significant players still to return. Let’s just hope that the highest placed Irish side in the PRO12 can deliver those players that might make the difference. 🙂
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