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One of my themes in writing posts here has been the increasing strength in depth in Irish rugby. Leinster, and increasingly, Munster, can make up to 15 changes between matches and still win. The increased physicality of the game also makes it imperative that your 8 "finishers" on the bench are as strong as the starting XV.

That is why the win against Wales was so satisfying. Wales had Leigh Halfpenny, Liam Williams, and George North coming back from injury while we had Furlong, Henderson, O'Brien, Vd Flier, Ruddock, Henshaw and Ringrose out. It didn't seem to matter. Most of the bench added value as well.

Chris Farrell, Aki, Stockdale, Leavy, James Ryan and Porter hardly have a handfull of test caps between them and yet all performed like seasoned internationals. With Furlong, Henderson, and Ringrose ready to come back in (if picked!), we look well placed to beat a resurgent Scotland at home, and perhaps even England at Twickenham.

Cover for injuries and strength off the bench will be vital for the World Cup as well. Heaslip's retirement leaves us with Stander and Conan at 8 with Max Deegan improving fast.Tadgh Beirne will add to our second row (and no. 6) depth. With Rory Best already 35, I worry about our strength at hooker. No one is grabbing the jersey from him.

But other than that, things are looking good. If we beat Scotland and England, we might even end up the world no. 2 ranked side. Happy days!

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Feb 27th, 2018 at 01:07:48 PM EST

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