Wednesday 20 February 2013

Introducing... Luke Marshall

I've been waxing lyrical about Luke Marshall for a while now, and this is why.

When you see a young player for the first few times, it's a relatively safe assumption to say that their preferred playing style won't change too much for the rest of their career. And it doesn't take too long to see the main attributes of this player that has brought him this far.

As an example, Ronan O'Gara knew how to control a game with his kicking, was a very good placekicker, but had some other areas of his game that were very poor. It just happened that the good parts of his game were so good that he ended up being one of the best out-halves in the world at his peak. While ROG was world class at controlling games, you wouldn't put money on him chasing a game and producing attacking magic to break lines from himself or others.

Having said that, while players like Madigan often producing some magic, he are doubts that in big games he couldn't control the match the way that O'Gara so wonderfully did for so long.

Which brings me to Luke Marshall.

In the games I've seen of him; Marshall has shown that he plays a physical game.In defence, he tackles ferociously and effectively, frequently stopping attackers dead in their tracks, and in attack, showing that he is willing to run straight and hard to provide go forward ball for his team.

But Marshall grew up as an out-half and is more than just a physical specimen.

He has the play making ability with ball in hand to either find a gap himself or put others into space. He provides an extra boot outside of the fly half, and has a long and accurate kick, if needed to kick to the corners.

He has a wonderful low fast pass that releases the faster players outside him. He runs good lines, both direct and into space and possesses a good step. He possesses a very good offload too.

And he has shown fantastic ability in the breakdown area much like D'Arcy and O'Driscoll in either turning ball over, or winning penalties. Not many centres in world rugby are as good at the breakdown as D'Arcy or O'Driscoll. Marshall is on his way.

He may not be amazing at every attribute I've mentioned, but he has shown the ability and willingness to try all of them, and it all seems to come to him naturally. He can improve all of these qualities to be world class in anything he wants, whereas others where it doesn't come as naturally will have to work harder. He still has a long way to go, but experience will improve what seems to be one of the more natural talents in the youth system in Ireland.

In short, Luke has it all, and the potential to go very very far. A bit of work on any of these areas and he can be world class. He will be the incumbent inside centre in Irish rugby for years to come. One to hang our hopes on?

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