The Return of Ronan: A look at the Ireland 15 for Scotland in the Six Nations 2011
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15 Luke Fitzgerald
14 Tommy Bowe
13 Brian O'Driscoll
12 Gordon D'Arcy
11 Keith Earls
10 Ronan O'Gara
9 Eoin Reddan
1 Cian Healy
2 Rory Best
3 Mike Ross
4 Donncha O'Callaghan
5 Paul O'Connell
6 Sean O'Brien
7 David Wallace
8 Jamie Heaslip
Like a soft chin on a big time boxer, Gordon D'Arcy continues to blight the Irish backline. D'Arcy has held onto his place at inside center after an abysmal Six Nations so far, and being frank an abysmal showing in an Irish shirt for the past few years.
Declan Kidney's decision to stick with the seemingly rapidly aging center has overshadowed the inclusion of Ronan O'Gara in the starting line-up. O'Gara has come in to replace Jonathan Sexton at Fly Half. O'Gara's inclusion signals a change in strategy for the Irish, who have also withdrawn Tomas O'Leary because of concerns over his fitness, as they move from a less Leinster like gameplan into the Munster mold.
By this I mean that Ireland will kick the ball more often and look to play the game in the scottish half opposed to attacking from deep with backline moves. The loss of O'Leary and Sexton slows the Irish team down but the return of Tommy Bowe on the wing comes as a massive boost to all concerned in the Irish camp.
Bowe has been one of Ireland's best players over the past few years and has the gamebreaking talent that has looked lacking this year. Bowe's inclusion in the back three makes Ireland a threat on the outside with the talented Luke Fitzgerald and explosive Keith Earls on the other wing.
D'Arcy's inclusion somewhat hinders the potential of the outside threats as he is a run first type of player who plays mostly like a back row forward than a ball moving center. He was able to do this in his younger years as he was an explosive player but these days he just slows down the team.
D'Arcy's place could have been filled by Andrew Trimble. The Ulster wing, who does not even make the bench behind Paddy Wallace, is strong and fast with gamebreaking explosion. He can play both as a center or winger. Had he been played on the wing, Keith Earls would have moved to the center which would have created a disruptive partnership with Brian O'Driscoll. Had he been played in the center, he would have offered more in attack than D'Arcy without the obvious frailties in defense.
The Irish pack has remained the same since last week after a very good showing against the French. Scotland are missing their two best forwards in Euan Murray(for religous reasons) and Nathan Hines(injury) which probably made Declan Kidney's gameplanning much easier. Expect the Irish pack to look to take over the game with big games from David Wallace, Jamie Heaslip and Sean O'Brien needed.
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