"If you want to win the Six Nations, you pick Rob Kearney, if you want to win the World Cup - you go for Jordan Larmour..."
The words of Stuart Barnes were paraphrased on OTB AM this Monday morning as we launched our Irish Rugby Power Rankings ahead of the 2018 Six Nations, before the start of the tournament, we’ll pick apart each position and discuss who Ireland should select this spring, and why.
Leinster's Jordan Larmour scores the first try of the game ©INPHO/Ryan Byrne
Writing in this morning’s Times, Ireland edition, Barnes recalled some of Clive Woodward’s key decisions that lead to England winning the 2003 World Cup.
“[Woodward’s] greatest two decisions were both based on potential, not form. First there was Johnny Wilkinson being thrown to the Wallabies as an 18 year-old [76-0 defeat]. The second was Jason Robinson. Larmour has that same stuttering step and lightning change of pace. Robinson knew next to nothing about union when he changed codes, bar how to bamboozle the first defender, but Woodward saw that something special…”
Jason Robinson of England is tackled by Simon Easterby of Ireland ©INPHO/Billy Stickland
So that’s what we’ll be discussing on OTB AM over the next few weeks; the balance between success right now, and having the best chance when September 2019 in Tokyo rolls around - what should Joe Schmidt do?
The likes of Carbery, Ringrose, Stockdale and Furlong have all smashed their way into the Ireland XV in various guises over the past 18 months - but should we be throwing in Deegan, Scannell, Larmour, Leavy and Cooney over the next two months?
Emmet Byrne, the former Irish and Leinster prop (loosehead and tighthead) joined Ger and Eoin in studio on Monday morning to analyse and dissect the front row power rankings, three weeks out from Paris.
At tighthead, Tadhg Furlong is in complete command of the position, Emmet explains why and brilliantly breaks down why it’s the "hardest and most physical position to play".
Emmet also gave the lowdown on Andrew Porter, and where his strengths lie.
Cian Healy, on form is just ahead of Jack McGrath at the minute, but Emmet believes Jack can make a strong push for inclusion over the tournament.
“Cian is one of the most explosive loose-heads in Ireland, if not the world and that counts for something. Jack’s the kind of guy, who is very steady, he doesn’t deviate from a certain standard and you know exactly what you’re going to get from him across the board. Whereas Cian is quite capable of doing a significant amount of damage, and is quite dynamic across the pitch when he’s at the top of his game - will that Cian Healy be there against the bigger tests coming forward, at the minute the momentum is with him!”
There’s no budging the leader of the team at the minute, however Emmet seems worried that there’s no ready-made replacement standing up for the number two jersey at the moment.
“Herring is there or thereabouts too, but there’s no real outstanding candidate within that second tier of Irish hookers, there’s some good players and promising players but they haven’t been given enough game time.”
Watch the full stream below, and let us know who your Ireland front row would be - we’re discussing and evaluating the strength of each position until the Six Nations opener against France.