enby wrote:Joe just doesn't have any confidence in his bench, delaying far too long to bring on Marmion, Ryan, Scannell and even POM. Unless Stander was injured it seemed strange that he rather than either SOB or Jamie got hooked as he was having a far better game than the 2 lads.
Rob K offers little in attack and God knows what has happened to Zebo who seems to have lost his confidence and/or pace.
I think your point about the bench is definitely worth discussion. Schmidt made the first three tactical changes of the game – Healy for McGrath on 59 minutes, O'Mahony for Stander and Henderson for Toner on 63 minutes. Those are players who have proved their worth and their abilities at test level, getting +/- 20 mins of gametime.
The others? Besty is obviously the captain, which changes the dynamics quite a bit when it comes to substitution. It's not unknown to take your captain off for a tactical switch, but it's unusual. I like Scannell [in fact both brothers are very good] and I think that he is going to be in or around the team for a good few years, but I understand JS's reticence to replace a 100+ cap team captain with a one-start rookie with the game in the balance.
To be blunt, there's a big, big step down between Furlong and John Ryan. Ryan is a nice fella and I admire the way that he has resolved and battled through his illness, and to his credit he's showing the best form of his career. He's at the same standard as the heavily derided but very decent Michael Bent: a good solid professional. I don't think he's anything special at test level. I've seen a lot of him - both live for Con, Munster 'A' and Munster and obviously on the box too – and I think it's a fair reward for his form that he's getting the nod for the bench spot, but I'm under no illusions that he's a difference maker at test level. Would he be in the squad if Marty Moore was playing rugby in Ireland rather than England? Nope, not a chance.
The criticism of Schmidt not having confidence in some of his bench players? I think there's something to it, but I also see the other side of the argument. Obviously, JS is under an obligation to pick a sub loosehead, hooker and tighthead – it's not like picking a backrow sub, or an outside back sub. You've got to pick specialists, thus the pool is smaller. His second choice hooker [Cronin] is injured, so he's already down to his third choice. He recognised Tracy's excellent form in November, then gave due credit to Scannell's form and gave him the nod for the Six Nations.
At tighthead, JS made the decision to axe the [then] 36 year old Mike Ross before the November Internationals. Rossy made 58 starts in the previous six seasons and he was essentially retired with that squad selection. He wasn't going to make RWC19 so it was a decision that had to be made at some stage, and better sooner rather than later. Nathan White had retired in September 2016 due to head knocks, after featuring in 13 matches in 2015-16, including all five RWC15 games and all five 6N 2016 games. Marty Moore made his decision to leave for Wasps during the 2015-16 season, thus ruling himself out of test rugby. We essentially lost three of our four best tightheads – and the only tightheads who had played in the Six Nations in the last three years – within the space of a couple of months: Moore to Wasps in August, White to retirement in September and Rossy to international exile in October.
So the tighthead depth isn't what it was; behind Furlong it's completely in flux. Neither Ryan nor Bealham were ever blue chip prospects the way Moore or Furlong were; Bealham made one start for the Irish U20s, Ryan didn't make it. Both of them were originally looseheads, or ambipropsterous at best. Bealham got the nod in November, Ryan's form has been recognised for the Six Nations. I'm not knocking their progress as players, but I think you have to be pragmatic about assessing their talent/ability at the elite level of test rugby.
Just as a last note, take a look at the minutes played for our sub-tighthead props [Marty Moore and Nathan White] in the last three Six Nations prior to this one:
Marty Moore: http://www.irishrugby.ie/rugby/fixtures ... ef=dynamic
[average 21.7 mins/sub appearance]
Nathan White: http://www.irishrugby.ie/rugby/fixtures ... ef=dynamic
[average 21.6 mins/sub appearance]
My reading of that [in comparison to the limited gametime given to John Ryan in the last couple of games – 1 min against Wales, 6 mins against France], is that – as the original poster and some others have written – Schmidt doesn't really have confidence in Ryan. He's got to pick a sub-tighthead though, and at the moment Ryan is the next cab off the rank.