With the Irish 6 nations squad being announced, I thought, as I usually do, to have a crack at naming my team.
Before I do, I think the set up that England have, with an EPS, and a Saxon squad announcement seems to be a good way to go, and that is the set up I'm going to have.
Personally, I would have 38 in any squad, with at least two in each position, with extra prop, hooker, second row, back row, scrumhalf, outhalf, centre and back three.
However, I think Deccie usually names less, and it's an awkward number like 31 or 33.
First off, the guaranteed members of the squad are: Healy, Best, Ross, Ryan, McCarthy, O'Brien, Heaslip, Sexton, O'Driscoll, D'Arcy, Gilroy, Zebo and Kearney.
This leaves 20 places.
One of the spots is a direct toss up between Dave Kilcoyne and Tom Court. Heck, Deccie might even name both. Both have been in good form, and both played very well at the weekend, with Tom Court in particular destroying the Glasgow scrum. However, with the memory of Twickenham, I think Court is behind Kilcoyne at the moment.
With Strauss only just returning from injury next week, and Cronin being in great form, Cronin has to be named as 2nd choice behind Best. Although Best hasn't been in the best form, Ali Kellock profiting from some less than impressive throwing on Friday night. Mike Sherry has been in decent form and should be the alternative should Kidney decide Strauss isn't ready.
Back up to Ross is a bit of a problem. Bent seemed to have fixed the problem, but his less than impressive showings since the internationals have us doubting him, again. Declan Fitzpatrick made a long awaited comeback from injury coming off the bench on Friday, so he might sneak back in again. The reality is though, that Deccie will ask Ross to play every game, and 80 minutes as much as possible.
Ryan and McCarthy have the second row slots sown up. With Tuohy injured, another should-be squad member's place is up for grabs. Donnacha O'Callaghan has been in decent form and should be involved, with the last spot between the impressive Dave O'Callaghan and Devin Toner. Deccie might decide that Iain Henderson will provide enough cover for the second row though.
Blindside flanker has a lot of options, with Sean O'Brien, Kevin McLaughlin and Rhys Ruddock from Leinster, Henderson from Ulster, and O'Mahony from Munster. I don't think Kidney likes McLaughlin, and O'Mahony is a certainity. Leaving a straight duel between Henderson and Ruddock, which Henderson will win in Deccie's eyes. Deccie always brings Muldoon in here too.
Openside will be Henry. His back up could be Tommy O'Donnell, who has impressed recently, and is my shout for a new cap. O'Brien and O'Mahony can cover here too.
Back up for Heaslip is provided by Henry and O'Mahony.
Scrumhalf- Murray is the favourite at the moment, while the public still calls for Marshall, he seems to be no 3 ahead of Boss, who is in the best form out of the Irish scrum-halves. We aren't blessed with talent in this department at the moment. Marmion and Heaney for the future, with Marmion an outside chance here.
With O'Gara's likely citing, Kidney will only call up Jackson as Sexton's back up. Provided Jackson overcomes the injury suffered at the weekend, otherwise the call between Keatley and Madigan is a mystery. One suspects that Kidney chooses Munster when in doubt, and Keatley is probably a safer option. I don't rate either to be honest, although Madigan is probably the better of the two.
With Luke Marshall injured, Paddy Wallace is in with an outside chance of being called back up. He's been in good form. But D'Arcy has been having an Indian summer, and McFadden will provide the cover at 12,
BOD is back. All is well. Unfortunately Earls is his back up. Darren Cave should be, and now his place is in doubt.
Gilroy, Trimble and Zebo are certainties, and Luke Fitzgerald should be, but Deccie isn't a forgiving person so we'll see. McFadden is also here. Also an outside chance for Niall Morris. I think Earls has been fully converted to 13 as well, but you never know with Deccie. If O'Hallorhan's injury isn't serious, I'd have a look at him too. He is a great prospect, being ignored because he's at Connacht. He is in great form too.
Kearney is back. and with Felix Jones performing so badly, Zebo must be the back up here. Hopefully Henshaw can't be far away either.
MY GUESS FOR ACTUAL:
Healy, Kilcoyne, Court
Best, Cronin, Strauss,
Ryan, McCarthy, O'Callaghan,
Heaslip, O'Mahony (18)
Murray, Reddan, Marshall
Gilroy, Zebo, Trimble, Fitzgerald,
Wolfhounds Squad: (Won't be as many as players will drop down)
McGrath, Black, Buckley
Toner, Dave O'Callaghan, Kearney
Dougall, Ryan, Diack
Marmion, Boss, Heaney
Keatley, O'Connor, Madigan
I would love to see people like Niall Annett, Mick Kearney, Sean Dougall, Dominic Ryan, Tiernan O'Hallorhan, Michael Heaney, Kieran Marmion, Dave McSharry involved in the Wolfhounds.
Just a nod from Deccie to say he's noticed them, so we know he's not stupid.
Healy, Kilcoyne, Court
Best, Cronin, Strauss,
Ryan, McCarthy, Henderson, O'Callaghan
Boss, Reddan, Marmion,
Sexton, Jackson, Madigan,
Gilroy, Fitzgerald, Trimble, Zebo,
I should explain with the scrumhalves, which I'm not terribly happy about. I would give Boss a spot due to him being in form, same with Marmion, he needs to be rewarded. I would have Marshall in there too, but I don't think there would be enough experience, leaving a shoot-out between off colour Reddan, or someone who needs to go away and learn things in Murray.
A note on Murray, I think he will be good, he just seems stuck in a rut at the moment, and a Tommy Bowe like break from the international scene might give him the kick up the arse he needs.
Court, McGrath, Buckley,
Fitzpatrick, Bent, Archer
Kearney, Denton, Dave O'Callaghan
Ryan, Dougall, O'Donnell
O'Hallorhan, Cochrane, O'Dea