John_s_version_3The teams for tomorrows Ireland v Italy RBS Six Nations match were announced yesterday. The game kicks off at the Aviva Stadium at 1:30pm with live coverage on ITV/RTE2. 

While the U20’s and Women’s sides have shown some progress, in style of play and personnel used, this season the “flag ship” outfit seems to be going backwards with Joe Schmidt delivering another rather uninspiring selection.

Now, I know Schmidt takes a great deal of interest in the Women’s side and the U20’s and has been very encouraging in, well, encouraging them to open up so you have to wonder why he remains so reserved when it comes to the men? Jeez when you think of the great Leinster sides that hammered Ulster regularly in recent seasons you have to wonder what’s happened!

To me the issue seems to be the fear of losing, as Ireland appear to be concentrating more on defence rather than attack. Payne cited for his defensive organisation in the centre rather than his attacking prowess from full back is conservatism gone mad. Ireland’s current strategy would be fine if we had a big pack that could cause some damage behind the gain line and take advantage of Ireland’s positional tactics but with all modern defences well drilled and generally equally effective Ireland need to find that something extra to break opponents down other than brute force. 

Having said that, brute force will probably be enough against this set of Italians but with Ireland without a win in their games against the championship contenders I fail to see what Ireland stand to gain from this match with such a conservative selection. No doubt the eventists will enjoy their day out at the Aviva as they celebrate an Ireland win but the long standing supporter should be feeling a touch disgruntled! 

Anyway, welcome back Jared Payne, please stay injury free over the next two weeks! 

IRELAND   ITALY
Simon Zebo 15 David Odiete
Andrew Trimble 14 Leonardo Sarto
Jared Payne 13 Michele Campagnaro
Robbie Henshaw 12 Gonzalo Garcia
Keith Earls 11 Mattia Bellini
Jonathan Sexton 10 Edoardo Padovani
Conor Murray 9 Guglielmo Palazzani
Jack McGrath 1 Andrea lovotti
Rory Best 2 David Giazzon
Mike Ross 3 Lorenzo Cittadini
Donnacha Ryan 4 George Biagi
Devin Toner 5 Marco Fuser
CJ Stander 6 Francesco Minto
Josh van der Flyer 7 Alessandro Zanni
Jamie Heaslip 8 Sergio Parisse
     
Sean Cronin 16 Oliviero Fabiani
Cian Heal 17 Matteo Zanusso
Nathan White 18 Dano Christolini
Ultan Dillane 19 Quintin Geldenhuys
Rhys Ruddock 20 Braam Steyn
Kieran Marmion 21 Alberto Lucchese
Ian Madigan 22 Kelly Haimona
Fergus McFadden 23 Luke McLean

#SUFTUM