"I don't see where he fits in" - Predicting the big Six Nations call-ups and casualties
"I'm going to put my neck on the line with this fella... "
Ever since the Bank of Ireland Nations Series wrapped, there has been speculation on who Andy Farrell will select for his Ireland squad, for the opening rounds of the 2023 Six Nations.
Farrell appears more open to bringing in new faces than Joe Schmidt and Declan Kidney did, especially 12 months out from a World Cup. By now, the experimenting is almost over. Conor Murray (2011) was the Kidney punt while Schmidt took a promising young tighthead called Tadhg Furlong to the 2015 World Cup.
As we head into the latest Six Nations, players like Tom Stewart, Jack Crowley, Niall Murray and Jamie Osborne are all doing what they can to get Farrell's attention. In reality, only one of that quartet may make the cut when the squad is named on Thursday morning at 9am.
On the latest House of Rugby [LISTEN from 63:05 below], Jason Hennessy, Lindsay Peat and Brian Moylett offered up some late suggestions for Farrell to consider, while noting a couple of well-known names that could miss out.
Late Six Nations charges
Putting her neck on the line, as possible Six Nations call-ups were discussed, Lindsay Peat said Jamie Osborne could be called in, at least in a development player capacity.
"One Leinster fella that might be in jeopardy of not making the squad, if everyone is fit" she said, "is Jordan Larmour. I'm just not sure where he is going to fit in, as a winger, in this Six Nations. Don't get me wrong - he's back and he's playing well - but if everyone is fit, it could be tough."
Jason Hennessy is hopeful, more than confident, that Keith Earls will make the cut despite being dropped from Munster's latest Champions Cup match-day squad. Earls is on 98 Test caps but could miss out if Andy Farrell goes for a squad of 34 or 35 players.
"If there was ever a man that deserves a century of caps, it's Keith bloody Earls," he declared. "I know you don't want to give him pity caps, I still think he's good enough to be in there."
Possible surprise call-ups
"Cian Prendergast has to stay," Brian Moylett commented. "He was there in the last few squads.
"Niall Murray is another Connacht player that has been unreal. He took apart the Leinster lineout, a couple of weeks ago, and he has been incredible for the past year, 18 months. While there are a lot of really good second rows out there, he would definitely be worth a shot."
Both Hennessy and Peat were in agreement that, as cover for Hugo Keenan, it would be good to see Mack Hansen get one or two Six Nations starts at fullback, where he has recently excelled for Connacht.
The case for Tom Farrell, another Connacht star, was pressed for the second week running. Now that he is injury free and getting a run of games, Farrell has reminded us all of his abilities.
Jamie Osborne and Mike Haley are both in rude form and cases were made for the Leinster centre and Munster fullback, who is stuck on one Test cap after featuring in a 2019 World Cup warm-up.
XV OF PLAYERS THAT COULD MISS OUT
15. Mike Haley (Munster)
14. Keith Earls (Munster)
13. Jamie Osborne (Leinster)
12. Tom Farrell (Connacht)
11. Jacob Stockdale (Ulster)
10. Ross Byrne (Leinster)
9. Luke McGrath (Leinster)
1. Dave Kilcoyne (Munster)
2. Tom Stewart (Ulster)
3. John Ryan (Munster)
4. Ryan Baird (Leinster)
5. Niall Murray (Connacht)
6. Alex Kendellen (Munster)
7. Nick Timoney (Ulster)
8. Max Deegan (Leinster)
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