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The Four Biggest Losers From The Ireland Team Announcement

The Four Biggest Losers From The Ireland Team Announcement
By Conor O'Leary

Joe Schmidt promised that he would start experimenting with his line-ups for the rest of the Six Nations. He would say that that's what he's doing with the inclusion of Josh van der Flier and Stuart McCloskey, but is it enough? While we are extremely excited about the new debutants for the weekend, there are some big selection calls that Schmidt made that are head-scratchers.

Here are the four players who have the biggest right to be annoyed with that team selection:

Tommy O'Donnell

Did Tommy O'Donnell shit in Joe Schmidt's cereal or something? The openside flanker is one of the most badly treated players in Irish rugby, and it's not just from today.

This is the third time in his career where he's been dropped from the squad despite playing well. In 2014, he was dropped for Jordi Murphy in the third game of the Six Nations after coming off the bench in the first two games. O'Donnell didn't make any glaring errors nor was Murphy tearing it up much more than O'Donnell was and it was a strange move at the time.

It got even worse a year later, when after scoring a try in the opening Six Nations game against Italy; O'Donnell found himself out of the squad for the next game against France.

If anything O'Donnell was in even better form this season, and to be sacrificed for new blood in van der Flier is a blow. O'Donnell wasn't one of the regular players that was underperforming. If anything he would be in the category of players needing more experience.

Paddy Jackson

Jackson illustrated his frustrations last week after having no part in the Six Nations so far. Jackson is in the form of his life since the World Cup, and the same can not be said of the other out-halves in Ireland at the moment.

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It's been very frustrating. I thought I'd possibly done enough to get into that match-day squad but it wasn't meant to be.

We called for Jackson to be starting against England, and while that was a bit fanciful from us (me) - the notion that Madigan's versatility is valued over Jackson's form doesn't seem to hold up as well under scrutiny as it did.

See Also: Plenty Of Fans Will Agree With Paddy Jackson After Most Frustrating Moment Of France Defeat

Sean Cronin

Schmidt's approach to his sub-hookers is a curious one his season. So far he's flip-flopped between Strauss and Cronin for each game, with Strauss winning the role this weekend.

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We've already looked at why Cronin was overlooked for the Welsh game, which seemed strange to us given not much has happened between the pair since the World Cup.

See Also: What On Earth Did Sean Cronin Do To Piss Off Joe Schmidt?

Kieran Marmion

When a head coach talks about being able to experiment - one of the first assumptions to be made from that is the 35-year-old with a lot of experience would probably make way for the 24-year-old with 40 minutes of international experience behind him.

But apparently not. Schmidt must have seen something very negative from Marmion in the game against Wales - when the Connacht scrum-half sat on the bench the entire game - for him to be dropped from the matchday squads since then.

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Still, it should benefit Connacht to have a player of Marmion's calibre back for their big Pro 12 game against the Ospreys this weekend.

See Also: Joe Schmidt's Selection Has Given Ireland Something We've Never Seen Before

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