Thursday, 14 February 2013

Ooh Ah Luke McGrath



Luke McGrath seems to me to be the main contender from this season's 20's that could make the step up to the professional ranks.

Sometimes I think I can be a bit biased about things, and I probably am, maybe even about this as McGrath went to my old school St. Michael's in Dublin.


Last year he shared scrum-half duties with Kieran Marmion, who has since gone on to bigger and better things with Connacht, with McGrath starting twice and Marmion three times in the 6 Nations, and Marmion gaining the upper hand in the JWC, starting all but one of the games.

Now, to me, It doesn't seem like a huge jump to suggest that Mike Ruddock, who would have the best chance at looking at the upcoming talent in the ranks, seemed to only slightly think that Marmion was better than McGrath.

Given what Marmion has gone on to achieve, it wouldn't be a huge step to conclude that McGrath might go on a do something similar. He's had two full Leinster caps already in the Rabo, as well as captained Ireland and Leinster at U18 and U20 level, suggesting huge leadership ability.



However, watching him and the rest of the 20's this season  you can clearly see that he is the heartbeat of the side, and without him they would be on the end of some hidings.

Watching him during the game, he controls is forwards the way Stringer did at his best, he has a good pass off both hands, and can pass without taking steps (even if that has started to creep into his game a bit recently). As he showed several times against Wales though, he isn't afraid to have a snipe around the fringes, and usually makes yards and retains the ball.

It's in defence that he really stands out. He covers the play extremely well, and isn't afraid at 5'9'' and 84kg to take on people a lot bigger than him, and stop them with great tackling technique. It's almost scary the amount of key covering tackles he makes which suggests that the rest of the team's defence isn't brilliant. At the breakdown as well, he is like D'Arcy or O'Driscoll and he small size makes it easy for him to get over the ball and generate a few turnovers.

Comments from dementedmole:

"Luke McGrath stood in for the injured John Cooney for Leinster ‘A’ in the cracking British & Irish cup semi-final against Munster ‘A’ that went into extra time in the RDS on Good Friday. The youngster stepped up to the mark well and bagged a try, outplaying his 26-year old opposite number Duncan Williams for most of the game. With another season at this level in front of him, and another very capable scrum-half in Kieron Marmion in the squad for the tournament, The Mole thinks it likely that we’ll see both No9s used in the way that Leinster have used Eoin Reddan and Isaac Boss over the last two seasons.

EDIT: McGrath also made his senior Leinster debut this year, coming off the bench to replace Eoin Reddan for eleven minutes against Newport Gwent Dragons in early May."

"Luke McGrath – The highly regarded McGrath has another season at U20 next year. His defence against England was tenacious and he showed his kills earlier in the tournament with a neatly taken drop goal. McGrath put a reasonable tempo on the game in the 6 Nations and has had exposure at ‘A’ level for Leinster, as well as playing for UCD in Division 1B. Boss and Reddan have nailed down the first two slots in the Leinster depth chart but both players are closer to the end of their career than the beginning and McGrath will be hoping to get some squad exposure next season."