Stephen Ferris called Ronan Kelleher the "star of the show" after his performances during the November series. The Leinster hooker started every match, scoring a try in the win over New Zealand and was one of many players who stepped up for Ireland this month.
Speaking to Balls on The Buildup in association with Ladbrokes Stephen Ferris picked some of his winners from the November series in the Ireland squad. He highlighted a few players including Ronan Kelleher who were winners for him. "Kelleher for me has been the real star of the show, what he brought, the physicality, the way he can move he's just so fast, so much pace, a big huge hand-off, big fend, steamrolling over guys, he's just a joy to watch at the minute."
"I know there's been questions over his lineout throwing and that's why Rob Herring was brought in on many occasions, especially in the Six Nations for that starting birth at hooker. But there's going to be some catching up (for Herring) to do to Kelleher because he's been in some fine fine form."
It wasn't just Kelleher who impressed Ferris. The former Ulster flanker highlighted the performances of Hugo Keenan and Josh van der Flier as players who shone.
"I think Hugo Keenan as well at full-back as well. This was a three week window where everybody was talking about 'Simon Zebo, does he get his chance at full back?', 'Joey Carbery, does he get his chance at full-back'. It's a bit like the Rob Kearney stuff, everyone questions it but as soon as he plays everyone just goes "yeah he's the best". He's been fantastic."
"Josh van der Flier in the back row, the way he's been carrying the ball, hasn't been as much getting over the ball and getting jackals and penalties at the breakdown. He's been exceptional in the way he's approached these games and I think that combination of him and Jack Conan and of course Caelan Doris is frightening of late."
"We can rhyme off all the lads and talk about all of them for a minute or two because they've all been very good and very consistent which is what we want going forward."
This November series also saw Andy Farrell settle on his strongest fifteen in each match. There wasn't many changes made nor was there experimenting in the games. This meant players like Ciaran Frawley, Stuart McCloskey and others didn't get any minutes. Stephen Ferris talked about the benefits and dangers of not rotating a squad.
"Squad strength and depth and all but I also feel sorry for some of the players. The likes of Simon Zebo who probably spent a crazy amount of time in camp holding tackle shields, the bin juice as the lads are called when they aren't getting any gametime and are just running opposition plays."
"Even somebody like Jack Carty. He's played very well for Connacht over the two weeks leading up to the Autumn internationals. There's another four or five players I could list off that are unfortunate not to get a cap or two in those games."
"Maybe it's the mindset that you have to earn your spot and it's not about rocking up to camp and saying "aw he's been played well the last couple of weeks let's give him a chance" it's really about knuckling down."
You can listen to the complete episode of The Buildup in association with Ladbrokes below.
Stephen Ferris: 'Ronan Kelleher has been the star of the show for Ireland in November'https://t.co/h8icY82cHW
— Balls.ie (@ballsdotie) November 23, 2021