The time is almost upon us. The end of January and thoughts have firmly turned to the Six Nations, and who will be selected for the tournament.
Should Schmidt start building towards the World Cup in Japan in 2019, or will there be too much emphasis on winning Six Nations? A lot of Schmidt's first choice players aren't in form right now, and some youngsters have been putting their hand up like Garry Ringrose, Stuart McCloskey, and Jack O'Donoghue.
But according to the Sunday Times, by the time that Joe Schmidt unveils his 35 or 36 man squad for the first two games against Wales and France, a number of those youngsters are going to be disappointed:
The start of a new four-year cycle tends to induce in rugby fans a fascination for new flesh and several kids have brightened the post-World Cup gloom: Josh van der Flier, Jack O’Donoghue, Kyle McCall, Ultan Dillane, Rory Scholes and especially Garry Ringrose.
How many of them will make the squad? Probably none of them. In fact, there could be just two uncapped players included — CJ Stander and Stuart McCloskey.
If this is true, that's not going to please a lot of fans who have been screaming for Ringrose in particular to make his Ireland debut. Ringrose has been in dazzling form, and the 21-year-old has shone in only a handful of starts. The majority of pundits believe it's a bit soon for Ringrose to be involved in the international set-up though, and while fans will be clamouring to get him in, it's not something that Schmidt does that often:
In this instance Schmidt is right, however. Ringrose isn’t physically ready for Test rugby and would be done a disservice by being thrown in against Jamie Roberts and his pals. The coach will aim to start Robbie Henshaw and Jared Payne in the centre, even though Henshaw probably won’t return from injury until Connacht’s game against Scarlets eight days before Wales.
Don't say we haven't warned you.
Picture credit: Ramsey Cardy / SPORTSFILE