There were two major surprises that were unveiled after the announcement of the Irish squad for the start of the Rugby World Cup next month.
Two experienced members—and former starters on a grand slam team—were left out of the traveling party.
Tomas O'Leary and Luke Fitzgerald seemingly played themselves out of contention over the past few months with both club and country. O'Leary's exclusion wasn't as big a shock considering he had missed most of the season with an injury but Fitzgerald's was despite his poor form.
Fitzgerald is one of the more creative and explosive players in the Irish backline that isn't fluent in either of those aspects of the game.
Without him the team will be looking to either Keith Earls or Andrew Trimble to take his place in the starting 15. Earls is an explosive and exciting talent but hasn't really brought that to his international game thus far. He has the pace but lacks the creativity of Fitzgerald.
Trimble is likely to receive the starting spot after impressive displays of late. Trimble isn't creative at all however he is a strong and physical runner with the ability to break tackles and finish moves. His defensive strength is also a bigger aid to the team than Fitzgeralds would be.
In a sense I have no problem with Kidney's decision to leave out the proven commodities in O'Leary and Fitzgerald but why are they receiving different treatment from other members of the squad?
For a long time now Gordon D'Arcy has held his place in the Irish starting lineup on reputation alone. D'Arcy introduced himself as an Irish international with tough running, reliable tackling and consistent passing.
These days none of those traits remain.
D'Arcy repeatedly misses tackles in the open field as well as being outmatched physically on crash balls through the middle. His tough running isn't as productive as it once was and he rarely sees the pass outside. D'Arcy is a poor decision maker offensively and is a liability in defense.
Despite all this he has held his starting place—and place in the squad—based on his reputation. It's not like Kidney hasn't taken note of his poor play. Why else would the team have moved Jonathan Sexton to first center last weekend against France rather than letting O'Gara get time with what will presumably be the starting center pairing.
Gordon D'Arcy is not needed for his versatility, he isn't even very versatile. Fergus McFadden's place in the squad gives them a utility back while Keith Earls and Andrew Trimble can both play center too.
D'Arcy is still going to start for Ireland during their opening game on the 11th of September, but Tomas O'Leary and Luke Fitzgerald's gripes at him even being there will be legitimate.Ireland's 30-man squad for the IRB Rugby World Cup 2011:
Rory Best (Banbridge/Ulster)
Isaac Boss (Terenure College/Leinster)
Tommy Bowe (Ospreys)*
Tony Buckley (Sale Sharks)*
Tom Court (Malone/Ulster)*
Sean Cronin (Leinster)*
Leo Cullen (Blackrock College/Leinster)*
Gordon D'Arcy (Lansdowne/Leinster)
Keith Earls (Young Munster/Munster)*
Stephen Ferris (Dungannon/Ulster)
Jerry Flannery (Shannon/Munster)
Cian Healy (Clontarf/Leinster)*
Jamie Heaslip (Naas/Leinster)*
Rob Kearney (UCD/Leinster)*
Denis Leamy (Cork Constitution/Munster)
Fergus McFadden (Old Belvedere/Leinster)*
Geordan Murphy (Leicester Tigers)
Conor Murray (Garryowen/Munster)*
Sean O'Brien (Clontarf/Leinster)*
Donncha O'Callaghan (Cork Constitution/Munster)
Paul O'Connell (Young Munster/Munster)
Brian O'Driscoll (UCD/Leinster) Captain
Ronan O'Gara (Cork Constitution/Munster)
Eoin Reddan (Lansdowne/Leinster)
Mike Ross (Clontarf/Leinster)*
Donnacha Ryan (Shannon/Munster)*
Jonathan Sexton (St. Mary's College/Leinster)*
Andrew Trimble (Ballymena/Ulster)
Paddy Wallace (Ballymena/Ulster)
David Wallace (Garryowen/Munster)* Indicates first World Cup.www.twitter.com/Cianaf