Joe Schmidt makes a great point about two Irish legends after unveiling mammoth midfield 5 years ago

Joe Schmidt makes a great point about two Irish legends after unveiling mammoth midfield

Chris Farrell and Stuart McCloskey will become Ireland's newest Test rugby midfield duo when they face Fiji at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday.

McCloskey is 6-foot-3 and a couple of pounds over 17-stone.


Farrell is 17-stone on the button and one inch taller.

Between the two men they have 1 international cap. One hopes they have put in a bundle of reps together in training.

Ireland coach Joe Schmidt backed the Ulster and Munster centres [both Ulstermen as Farrell is from Tyrone] to stand up to the Fijian challenge at the weekend. He is eager for Ireland to play with a bit of width so it is handy that both centres have excellent handling and passing ability. He added:

"We're looking for a lot of energy defensively. They can dominated on both sides of the ball."


The template for both men was hammered and tempered out by Robbie Henshaw and Bundee Aki against South Africa last week. No line breaks or attacking swathes but 25 tackles landed in defence and four turnovers won. Featuring in attacks without having to be the ones that make that bust.

"They have done a good job behind closed doors," Schmidt said of his fresh faces. "They merit their chance."

Schmidt, it must be recalled, sent McCloskey back to Ulster to work on his all-round game and, at the same time, got on the phone to Farrell, over in France, and convinced him he had an international future. He is well aware that a big, ball-playing option in midfield is highly desirable, and effective, in the Test arena.


This is not exactly new. Rugby has been heading in this hyper-sized direction for the past decade. Longer still. Ever since the game has gone pro, the specimens are getting bigger and the jerseys tighter.

It makes the fact that Brian O'Driscoll and Gordon D'Arcy not only survived but prospered in Test rugby all the more remarkable.

"It was only four years ago that D'Arce and Drico were playing together... How those guys punched above their weight is pretty phenomenal."

Wee Brian [5-foot-10] and Gordon [5-foot-11] would do you proud.


One hopes that smaller, skillful players still have a part to play in rugby at its highest level but they would certainly want to be able to hold their own in an increasingly brutal battleground.