Friday, 18 January 2013

Best uncapped Irish team

I thought with 6 new uncapped players in the Irish squad, and the talk about preparing for the future, that I'd have a look at a some of the better uncapped players around Ireland at the moment. One thing I noticed doing this is that not many players are uncapped anymore.

For this team, I'm looking at a potential Irish team for the future, with one rule, they can't be capped. Some choices may have better alternatives that are uncapped, but I'm thinking long-term potential over current ability.

15. Jared Payne / Robbie Henshaw

Probably one of the hardest choices. The immediate class of Payne vs the huge ability of Henshaw. With Payne uncapped and qualifying next year, I can't judge him on his current ability, but of his ability in a year and whether I think he will still be as good.

And he probably will.

14. Tiernan O'Hallorhan

I'm a huge fan of O'Hallorhan. He's been in good form recently, and deserves further recognition within the Irish set-up. He was one of the few players in the hammering against Quins to come out with his head held high. One for the future definitely.

Mentions: Luke O'Dea

13. Eoin O'Malley

Hopefully O'Malley will stay injury-free for a while, and start delivering on some immense potential that he always shows when he gets a chance behind BOD.

Mention: Danny Barnes

12. Luke Marshall

Those who know me know how much I wax lyrical about Marshall. I think this kid has it all. The ability to play ten, therefore kicking and playmaking skills. A good pass. Very solid defence, and breakdown skills. He's like moulding D'Arcy and O'Gara. And he's only young and improving. I love the idea of having two players that can mix and match at first receiver.

11.  Niall Morris

Niall Morris has been impressing me this season. He's getting a lot of gametime at Leicester, which is no mean feat. It's been no surprise that there was talk of Leinster trying to entice him back. I wouldn't be surprised to see him feature for the Wolfhounds soon.

10. JJ Hanrahan

Right, so I've gone with potential here. JJ is good. He will make it. At 10 or 12. And I think Marshall is a better 12 then anyone coming up at 10. Nominated for IRB young player of the tournament at last years JWC. Says it all really. Needs to kick on soon.

9. Michael Heaney/ Luke McGrath / Paul Marshall / Kieran Marmion

Lots of candidates here. Probably the hardest pick. I'd have Heaney over Marshall, mostly because they seem similar, and Heaney is 7 years younger and can grow. I've seen Luke McGrath grow up through school and he looks like something special. But I have to give it to Kieran Marmion. He has been playing this season as though he were a veteran. Oozes class and this should be recognised.

1. Denis Buckley / Jack McGrath

Denis Buckley has impressed in better company in the Pro 12 and H Cup this year, but I have a sneaky feeling Jack McGrath has more about him. He regularly captains the Leinster A side, suggesting a bit of leadership about him. But with Buckley getting more gametime, I probably should go with him.

2.  Niall Annett

Captain of the 20's last year hasn't looked out of place when playing for Ulster this year. Solid throwing and offering himself around the pitch. Great future ahead of him

Mention: Mike Sherry

3. Martin Moore

This guy has been making waves in the Leinster academy, and with the absence of decent potential coming through. Want to see more of him

Mention: Stephen Archer

4. Lewis Stevenson

It's great to see Stevenson getting recognised for a great performance last week. Looked the part and squeezes ahead of others yet to show how good they can be.

Mention: Ben Marshall, Mick Kearney

5. Quinn Roux

What a talent this guy is. Even though we haven't seen much of him in a Leinster shirt. SA are very upset he has left, and he looked impressive in the 20 minutes I saw ahead of that horrific fall. Clear winner.

6. Jordi Murphy

Jordi has exploded this year with some great performances, putting pressure on Ruddock, Ryan and McLaughlin. Conceivable that he could be a great in a few years.

7. Tommy O'Donnell

If not for the injuries that have blighted his career. What an impact he has had this season. Upstaged CJ Stander on his impressive debut, and has kicked on. Big year for him, should be involved in the 39 man squad.

Mentions: Dominic Ryan / Sean Dougall

8. CJ Stander

What a fantastic talent. This guy would be a Bok already if he hadn't left. Super talent, and I think his best position is at 8. With Butler coming through you might see more of him at 6, or potentially 7. But this guy oozes class, and will be a leadership figure in years to come.

Mention:  Paddy Butler

15. Payne, 14. O'Hallorhan, 13. O'Malley, 12. Marshall, 11. Morris, 10. Hanrahan, 9. Marmion, 1. Buckley, 2. Annett, 3. Moore, 4. Stevenson, 5. Roux, 6. Murphy, 7. O'Donnell, 8. Stander