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All The Criticism Of Joe Schmidt Shows That The National Media Thinks There's Only Two Provinces In Ireland

All The Criticism Of Joe Schmidt Shows That The National Media Thinks There's Only Two Provinces In Ireland
By Conor O'Leary

Ireland were embarrassing in losing to France. There's no other word for it. The result does nothing to change my mind that they are a better team than France are.

People smarter than us will tell you why Ireland didn't win - not taking advantage of their dominance or capitalising on French weaknesses are two simple reasons. Some say it's a selection issue - which also seems likely. Ireland are populated by a lot of out of form players, while some of the best performing players are still shining for their province right now.

The general consensus is that Ireland need to freshen up with some of these new faces. George Hook suggests bringing in Ian Madigan and Garry Ringrose. Alan Quinlan wants Ross, Zebo, and Earls to come in. If it wasn't for the push for Stuart McCloskey to be involved too - you'd swear there were only two provinces in Ireland.

Because there's more to Ireland than Munster and Leinster, and the form players in Ireland are in Ulster and Connacht. Ulster and Connacht are topping the Pro 12 table, went furthest in European competitions and both have 65% win percentages for the season, compared to the poor European play of Leinster and Munster with 58% win percentages. A large percentage of Leinster's wins this year have come without the seasoned internationals, and when Cullen played his in-form young players as opposed to the 14 who are in Joe Schmidt's matchday squad.

Ulster's backline is humming at the moment, and the main reason is because of an Irish out-half. Paddy Jackson has never played better than he has in the last few months, and it's time to start him for Ireland. He should be joined in the Ireland squad by the likes of Stuart McCloskey and Craig Gilroy, allowing Jared Payne to play where he's natural.

Over in Connacht, they have the best drilled pack in the Pro 12, and are the top try scorers in the tournament. Ireland's stocks are short at both lock and wing, and neither Matt Healy nor Aly Muldowney are even considered for Ireland despite career years. Even bringing them into the squad would be a huge boost to the pair - both Finlay Bealham and Ultan Dillane have taken massive leaps in the two games since being called into the Ireland squad.

There needs to be a bigger scramble to get the likes of Jackson, Healy, Muldowney, and the countless other in-form options playing in Ulster and Connacht in the national media.

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Will it happen? We'll see.

See Also: Stephen Ferris Was Seriousy Critical Of Joe Schmidt's Team Selection For France

See Also: Players Who Should Finally Be Given A Chance By Joe Schmidt

Picture credit: Oliver McVeigh / SPORTSFILE

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