Real danger that one of Ireland's best impact subs could follow Simon Zebo 5 years ago

Real danger that one of Ireland's best impact subs could follow Simon Zebo

There may not be a better impact sub in world rugby but he is currently surplus to Joe Schmidt's requirements.

Lost in the whole selection of Bundee Aki and three other uncapped players, and the axing of Simon Zebo, there were a few other interesting nuggets in the Ireland squad.


The Kearney brothers, Rob and Dave, were back in the fold and young tighthead Andrew Porter had edged out Connacht's Finlay Bealham. Rory Best will captain Ireland in the two 'big' Tests, against South Africa and Argentina, while there were back-up spots for James Tracy [Leinster] and Rob Herring [Ulster]. But where was Sean Cronin?

The omission of 'Nugget' from the Ireland camp was discussed onĀ The Hard Yards [from 6:00 below] and it could yet mean Irish fans may be seeing less and less of him in the coming years.

Former Ireland international Stephen Ferris played several times with the 56-times capped Cronin and was struggling to comprehend how he did not make the cut.


"Maybe he is not a starter in the Irish jersey, but I just can't get my head around why someone like Sean is not in the squad."

"I don't know. Is it something he has said or done in the last couple of weeks? I know he was struggling with a couple of injuries earlier on in the season."

Ronan O'Gara has spoken in the past of times when himself and Cronin were substitutes for Ireland. The veteran outhalf would often find himself trying to talk Cronin out of getting too despondent. He has rarely let Ireland or Leinster down and yet he has only ever started nine internationals.

He is a fine impact sub but that is a heavy burden to carry. Now that he has been left out of the November games, it may lead to clubs in the Premiership or Top 14 making an approach.

Cronin is one of several Ireland internationals coming to the end of their contracts and he is highly regarded in rugby circles outside these shores. Away from the Ireland set-up, he could realistically target a lucrative, three-year contract abroad. Simon Zebo's summer move from Munster to France has suddenly raised the stakes of each and every contract negotiation.


All may not be lost and the make-up of the 2018 Six Nations squads will be interesting.

The bald fact may be that Ireland captain Rory Best - the starting hooker for seven years when fit - is 35 now and hopeful of carrying on until the 2019 World Cup. Were Schmidt to stick with Best and Cronin as his main men, going into that tournament, one would be 37 and Cronin would be approaching 33.

Schmidt may be using November to see what Tracy [26] and Herring [27] can do in the high-pressure, international arena.