Sean Cronin proclaimed world's best impact sub and we're not arguing
"Try telling Sean Cronin that!"
Munster's Ian Keatley and Ulster's Tommy Bowe joined Ronan O'Gara, James Downey, Pat McCarry and host Andy McGeady are on The Hard Yards this week and there was a fascinating discussion on impact subs in the game.
Rugby is well and truly a squad game now and, invariably, the best sides are the ones that have strength in depth and players than can make a difference off the bench.
"There's the traditional [idea]," says O'Gara, "and maybe it comes from the older generation, that if you're not on the team, you are weaker than the other guy. You are perceived to be weaker. That is not the case any more."
— Pat McCarry (@patmccarry) September 14, 2017
No more is that true than in the case of Ireland and two of their front row replacements - Cian Healy and Sean Cronin. While Healy gets the odd start ahead of Leinster teammate Jack McGrath, Cronin is very much a Test match sub. 47 of his 56 international caps have been won off the bench. O'Gara says:
"Why would you start Sean Cronin when he can absolutely rip up defences in the last 30 minutes? I have been thinking about him a lot. Keep him in storage and then let him explode like he did [against Cardiff] and let him score a try when all the defences are knackered and he skates in from 50 metres.
"It's such a weapon to have - a forward that has the capacity to do that... I don't think there's a better impact sub in world rugby than him."
O'Gara is, no doubt, talking from a coach's perspective but Keatley believes Cronin - and any other player itching to get in from the get-go - would need some convincing.
"All you ever want to do as a player is run out on the pitch for the big games. You never dream, when you're growing up, 'Oh, I want to come on in the 60th minute'. We're not programmed for that."
The current Munster out-half may not be fully on-board with the former Munster out-half's way of thinking but he agrees that Cronin and Healy are two of the best game-changers off the bench in the game today.
Would you agree with O'Gara or is there a better impact sub in world rugby today?
Here's the full run-down of The Hard Yards this week:
1:00 - Ian talks about Munster's start to the season
2:00 - Rog and Ian about becoming parents
8:00 - The reasons why Ian chose to sign a two-year deal with Munster
12:00 - The boys talk about changing roles in the team from first choice to subsititute
17:30 - ROG talks about how impact subs are hugely important in the modern game
26:30 - Tommy Bowe talks about his Ireland ambitions, becoming a father
36:00 - Bowe on his GAA career
41:00 - A move to 13 for Bowe and breaking records in training
45:00 - Andy McGeady vs Pat McCarry's head-to-head with Ladbrokes' Hayley O'Connor
54:00 - Fan questions from Twitter with James Downey and the provincial bubble