Rugby

Rory Best Wants To See Farrell Utilise 'Squad Of 25 Or 26' For Six Nations

Rory Best Wants To See Farrell Utilise 'Squad Of 25 Or 26' For Six Nations

With 124 caps amassed between 2004 and 2019 - it's fair to say Rory Best has been around the international block.

The ex Ulster man has been looking ahead to the Six Nations with former teammate Tommy Bowe for BBC's Ulster Rugby Show which airs on Thursday night on BBC Two NI.

In many tournaments in the past - Irish coaches have been reluctant to rotate names until the Italy game rolls around on the fixture list.

Best believes head coach Andy Farrell should look to integrate names sooner. "I would like to see each game dropping somebody in who is very close," he said.

"Rather than trying to build a squad of 35 let's see firstly can we build a squad of 25 or 26 that are all capable of playing," Best added.

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It's fair to say if there was a year for Ireland to be experimental, this might just be the Six Nations to be so. Many will be hoping the likes of Michael Lowry, Robert Baloucoune, and Mack Hansen feature.

They are just three of a slew of names who could be in contention for starting spots. Several players have been on the fringes of squads in the past and are impressing for their provinces.

"What Ireland teams have done in the past is play four games with what they perceive as their strongest team then go to Italy and make 10-12 changes and go, 'We didn't play that well'," Best continued.

"They didn't play that well because you made 10 changes and gave them no continuity whatsoever." It'll be interesting to see who Andy Farrell names in his starting fifteen for Wales next weekend.

Tommy Bowe then made the case for a few Ulster men to feature early on into the competition. "I'd love to see James Hume get an opportunity in one of the games early on in the Six Nations," Bowe said.

"I would say Robert Baloucoune would start, I think Andrew Conway will move to the left-wing and I think Mike Lowry has a real opportunity."

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One of the bigger talking points will be the competition set for Johnny Sexton's fly-half residency. Now might be the time to experiment on that front.

With Jack Carty impressing for Connacht and Joey Carbery looking like he'll be fit enough to feature, Farrell will have some big decisions to make.

Best reckons Ulster man Michael Lowry could even be considered as a makeshift number ten. "Michael Lowry is going to be a really interesting one," he said.

"I would have real fears if you had him covering 10 that Johnny or Jack, or whoever starts, goes off really early, and then you're asking somebody who is playing his first or second game to try and run a game when he doesn't play it at club level."

"I also do get the versatility argument. It's probably more a World Cup squad conversation than a matchday squad because I don't think that at international position trying to cover every position works."

"The other issue is his stature. I'm a big believer that rugby is a game for all shapes and sizes and you keep waiting for Michael to be exposed but it never happens," Best added.

See Also: Italy Head Coach Kieran Crowley Would Welcome Promotion And Relegation In Six Nations

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