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Ulster Rugby 2018-19

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Post by LondonTiger Mon 04 Mar 2019, 9:49 am

First topic message reminder :

https://www.606v2.com/t68145-ulster-rugby-2017-2018-part-2


Last thread was at risk of self combusting, so started a new one for you. 


Bye.

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Post by geoff999rugby Sun 24 Jan 2021, 4:36 pm

I have not been here for a number of reasons.

However I thought I would pass on some thoughts of where I think or I've heard Ulster are situated player wise.
Firstly as some will have gathered I was very fortunate to have had a lot of personal contacts within the club.
With the passage of time that has reduced considerably in the last 2/3 years - I am now down to one player and one non player.
Fingers cross that that could be added to next year  Wink
Normally would not matter as ex members of Ulster would still be knocking about at matches and other locations but of course Covid has changed all that.

To firstly address Clive's comment on the Academy.
The Academy is now better run than its ever been, in the professional era, and the quality of players coming through is exceptional.
Campbell and Anderson have done a great job and I am confident Rory Best will join in some capacity soon.
The A team and the Academy have not lost to any other province this year.
This is inspite of us consistently playing A games with less experienced teams than our rivals.

Also seen some player mentioned as could leave Milasinovich and Johnson are going nowhere.
My assessment of the squad for next year:

Academy players in () are exceptional talents, those in [] are good prospects
Loose Head: McGrath, O'Sullivan, Warwick, (Reid) - I think sadly McCall is a busted flush and will be dropped, injuries have done for him.
Hooker: Herring, Andrew, (Stewart), are nailed on. McBurney needs to pull his socks up, Andrew is well ahead of him. Also Bradley Roberts has come up on the blind side and is pushing hard. Roberts is 4 years into a 5 year cycle to be eligable for Ireland.
Tight Head:  Moor, O'Toole, Milasinovich, Kane. There is no way we will go into a season with less than 4 players for all 3 front row positions and Milasinovich bring the huge bonus of being able to play both sides. Extra cover in case McGrath does disappear is absolutely invaluable
Lock: Henderson (CC), O'Connor A, Treadwell, O'Connor D are certain. If Carter doesn't resign we will definitely get a new lock in - 4 is not enough. (Izuchukwu) - he has an Irish mother and moved to Offaly when 7. 
Back Row: Reidy, Murphy, Jones, Timoney, Marcus Rea, Matty Rea, (McCann), [Allison] Coetzee is away. I think he will be replaced. Possible our only NIQ signing.

Next post will cover backs


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Post by geoff999rugby Sun 24 Jan 2021, 4:50 pm

Scrum Half: Cooney, (Doak), [Finlay]. I think one of Mathewson and Shanahan will go and one will stay. The one who stays will go next year. Seen the talk of Cooney. Ulster have him under contract for next year and will not let him go. After that who knows, I have got a theory I'll explain at the end.
Fly Half: Burns, Madigan, Johnson
Centres: McCloskey, Marshall, Moore, Hume, Curtis, [Hyde], [Carson]. Slightly worried about Curtis re injury
Back three: Addison, Balacoune, Lowry, Lyttle, Stockdale, (McIlroy), (Sexton), [Moxom], [Rankin]. Gilroy will I believe be ditched at the end of his contract, which I think is 2022 - he is not worth the money he is on. Ludik will retire and Faddes almost certainly will not be renewing his contract.

Cooney I believed will go next summer if he does not get the Ireland recognition he deserves and I believe the reason is Sexton.
I don't mean that in a bad way - it is simply a fact Sexton bosses the game from 10 and Cooney bosses the game from 9. They don't mix. Gilroy going would free up money that could be used to persuade Cooney to stay.

Two other youngsters to keep in your note book who could go all the way Crothers - back row and Postlewaite - centre


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Post by neilthom7 Sun 24 Jan 2021, 8:29 pm

Good to hear from you Geoff, hope all is going well with you.

Sexton looks outstanding for the A team, if he continues his development he could be something special.

With Coetzee leaving and Faddes probably going do you think there would be another foreign signing or is the money an issue with the loss of revenue that doesn't look like it will improve soon with fans not going to games

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Post by St John The Enforcer Mon 25 Jan 2021, 12:04 pm

geoff999rugby wrote: Also Bradley Roberts has come up on the blind side and is pushing hard. Roberts is 4 years into a 5 year cycle to be eligable for Ireland.
Good news lads. The hooker with the hair is already IQ this season along with James Lowe, Chris Cloete and Jarrad Butler at the other 3 provinces.

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Post by geoff999rugby Mon 25 Jan 2021, 12:08 pm

Neil in answer to your question I would guess we will get a new Lock, if Carter goes, and a new No 8.
Money is short so I would also calculate if Carter goes the Lock will be IQ and the no 8 will be NIQ.
So if  Mathewson leaves we could be down to 1 NIQ next year.

Do have a left field piece of speculation.
Last year we offered a contract to Jack Willis (he has an Irish granny)
He quickly turned us down as he wanted to play for England. He did make nice noises about the set up at Ulster though.
We could do a lot worse than make an offer to his brother.
Jack is not getting a fair crack of the whip with England maybe Tom could be tempted.

Money is short.
We are working on the assumption there will be no spectators at all in 20/21 and full stadium in 21/22.
If not it gets really serious.

One player I forgot was Jonny Stewart.
He was originally in the 1st team squad but has gone, as has Houston in the Academy.
Read somewhere Stewart went to University in Utrecht.
He wont be back - not good enough.

In all the outstanding backs we have coming through there are no 10s which is why Johnson is key.
He showed that in the recent 'A' game.

On injuries I mentioned concern about Curtis I would have a similar concern about Addison and Allison.
On a happier note Baloucoune is training and is fine also no reason to thing Marshall will not be back in good shape.
McGrath is a funny one not sure what the problem is bad luck with injury or has he fallen out of love with the game ?
If so a LH is required because, as I said, McCall cant cut it anymore. Alternatively we use Milasinovich as both a LH who can play TH.
Significant he played a half as LH in the recent A game


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Post by geoff999rugby Mon 25 Jan 2021, 12:21 pm

St John The Enforcer wrote:
geoff999rugby wrote: Also Bradley Roberts has come up on the blind side and is pushing hard. Roberts is 4 years into a 5 year cycle to be eligable for Ireland.
Good news lads. The hooker with the hair is already IQ this season along with James Lowe, Chris Cloete and Jarrad Butler at the other 3 provinces.

Not sure Roberts is qualified until summer 2022.
He arrived in 2017 BUT he was not signed, by Ulster, until after the change, and that is crucial.
I concede I could be wrong in that.
In truth it is irrelevant as he will not be called up by Ireland between now and summer 2022.
Also he would be Ulster only residency qualifying player.

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Post by Kingshu Mon 25 Jan 2021, 12:26 pm

Welcome back Geoff, always like your input.

On the Cooney being left out as Sexton bossing the game from 10 and Cooney from 9 theory, its not one I fully buy into.
Sexton has played the full 80 minutes something like once in the last 3 years which means in all likelyhood Burns or Byrne will finish out most games, there is nothing stopping Cooney being on the bench and coming on to partner one of those two. If fact with those two you would prob rather have Cooney come on to partner them rather than Casey or JGP.
Cooney and Burns/Byrne is a better option than JGP and Burns/Byrne.
So with that theory maybe he doesnt start with Sexton, but hes the best bench option SH and to be completely excluded from the squad is still baffling.

On the why hasn't EoS or McGrath been called up? After the Autumn cup when Bealham had to play LH and EoS was a late call up you would have thought Farrell would have learned a lesson, yet again he has only picked 2 LHs. If Healy or Killer pull up before a game it means the starting TH moves to be bench LH, and you have a TH would hasnt played a game in about a year and one who has no international experience on the bench? If one LH gets injured EoS or McGrath will be called in late, why not just have one training with the squad from start?

Personally I think only 5 Ulster players being picked is a bit of a joke, 2nd best province for a while now yet the players don't get the opportunites players at Leinster and Munster get with Ireland.

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Post by St John The Enforcer Mon 25 Jan 2021, 12:39 pm

geoff999rugby wrote:
St John The Enforcer wrote:
geoff999rugby wrote: Also Bradley Roberts has come up on the blind side and is pushing hard. Roberts is 4 years into a 5 year cycle to be eligable for Ireland.
Good news lads. The hooker with the hair is already IQ this season along with James Lowe, Chris Cloete and Jarrad Butler at the other 3 provinces.

Not sure Roberts is qualified until summer 2022.
He arrived in 2017 BUT he was not signed, by Ulster, until after the change, and that is crucial.
I concede I could be wrong in that.
In truth it is irrelevant as he will not be called up by Ireland between now and summer 2022.
Also he would be Ulster only residency qualifying player.
No player will qualify for Ireland in 2021 or 2022. Playing rugby and living in the country is the only requirement (See Leo Auva'a in Leinster) Signing for Ulster has no bearing.

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Post by St John The Enforcer Mon 25 Jan 2021, 12:45 pm

So to sumarise. Players arriving before the end of 2017 qualify in 3 years. Players arriving after qualify in 5. Therefore a player arriving on the 1/1/2018 would qualify for Ireland on the 1/1/2023. And one arriving on the 31st of December 2017 would have qualified on the 31 st of December 2020.

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Post by neilthom7 Mon 25 Jan 2021, 5:03 pm

geoff999rugby wrote:Neil in answer to your question I would guess we will get a new Lock, if Carter goes, and a new No 8.
Money is short so I would also calculate if Carter goes the Lock will be IQ and the no 8 will be NIQ.
So if  Mathewson leaves we could be down to 1 NIQ next year.

Do have a left field piece of speculation.
Last year we offered a contract to Jack Willis (he has an Irish granny)
He quickly turned us down as he wanted to play for England. He did make nice noises about the set up at Ulster though.
We could do a lot worse than make an offer to his brother.
Jack is not getting a fair crack of the whip with England maybe Tom could be tempted.

Money is short.
We are working on the assumption there will be no spectators at all in 20/21 and full stadium in 21/22.
If not it gets really serious.

Thanks Geoff, I think thats a fair assumption to be under, it's extremely doubtful anyone would be allowed into stadiums before the end of this season but in time for september could be realistic given the progress of the vaccine etc.

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Post by neilthom7 Mon 25 Jan 2021, 5:07 pm

Aaron Sexton, Luke Marshall, Alan O'Connor and Robert Baloucoune have all been announced as singing on to 2023 today.

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Post by geoff999rugby Tue 26 Jan 2021, 10:10 am

Kingshu wrote:Welcome back Geoff, always like your input.

On the Cooney being left out as Sexton bossing the game from 10 and Cooney from 9 theory, its not one I fully buy into.
Sexton has played the full 80 minutes something like once in the last 3 years which means in all likelyhood Burns or Byrne will finish out most games, there is nothing stopping Cooney being on the bench and coming on to partner one of those two. If fact with those two you would prob rather have Cooney come on to partner them rather than Casey or JGP.
Cooney and Burns/Byrne is a better option than JGP and Burns/Byrne.
So with that theory maybe he doesnt start with Sexton, but hes the best bench option SH and to be completely excluded from the squad is still baffling.

On the why hasn't EoS or McGrath been called up? After the Autumn cup when Bealham had to play LH and EoS was a late call up you would have thought Farrell would have learned a lesson, yet again he has only picked 2 LHs. If Healy or Killer pull up before a game it means the starting TH moves to be bench LH, and you have a TH would hasn't played a game in about a year and one who has no international experience on the bench? If one LH gets injured EoS or McGrath will be called in late, why not just have one training with the squad from start?

Personally I think only 5 Ulster players being picked is a bit of a joke, 2nd best province for a while now yet the players don't get the opportunities players at Leinster and Munster get with Ireland.

We will have to agree to disagree on this one.
The 9/10 axis is the most important on the pitch.
You cant have two generals on the pitch - it doesn't work
Leinster, and Ireland have always been driven by their 10 - in Irelands case Humphreys, O'Gara, Sexton
Ulster for a decade have been driven by their 9 - Pienaar, Cooney

If Ireland have Cooney and the pitch and Murray gets injured early then Cooney Sexton have to play the game alongside each other.
Some things simple don't mix like Beef and Bananas Very Happy

As to Irelands selection I have to say Casey as the third Scrum Half is a joke.
I've watched him this year, good prospect but nowhere near ready and any exposure to International rugby now could do him more harm than good.
By all means take him as a trainee - like O'Toole last year but not as a viable squad option.
If not Cooney then tale McGrath or one of the Connacht lads.
Gibson-Park is for me the perfect bench player someone who can come on and change things but too erratic to be a starter.

I'll go out on a limb here and predict Doak will prove to be a better long term prospect than Casey.
Casey is an eye catching jack-in-a-box but for me Doak has sounder fundamental core skills which shine through in the long run.
Also remember Doak is 2 years 8 months younger - so 3 years behind in being recruited into the respective Academies
Just watch where Doak is in 3 years

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Post by geoff999rugby Tue 26 Jan 2021, 10:13 am

St John The Enforcer wrote:
geoff999rugby wrote:
St John The Enforcer wrote:
geoff999rugby wrote: Also Bradley Roberts has come up on the blind side and is pushing hard. Roberts is 4 years into a 5 year cycle to be eligable for Ireland.
Good news lads. The hooker with the hair is already IQ this season along with James Lowe, Chris Cloete and Jarrad Butler at the other 3 provinces.

Not sure Roberts is qualified until summer 2022.
He arrived in 2017 BUT he was not signed, by Ulster, until after the change, and that is crucial.
I concede I could be wrong in that.
In truth it is irrelevant as he will not be called up by Ireland between now and summer 2022.
Also he would be Ulster only residency qualifying player.
No player will qualify for Ireland in 2021 or 2022. Playing rugby and living in the country is the only requirement (See Leo Auva'a in Leinster) Signing for Ulster has no bearing.

On reflection I think you are right.
Read somewhere the switch from 3 to 5 year residency was put back a year due to Covid.



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Post by geoff999rugby Tue 26 Jan 2021, 10:30 am

I mentioned Tom Willis as a total conjecture regarding players to sign.

Here are two more likely possibilities, players to consider.
Some here talked of us signing a Leinster backrower - with Deegan and Ruddock being mentioned but Conan dismissed.
A few years ago, probably when we signed Coetzee, we offered Conan a contract.
At the time he turned us down saying he saw playing for Leinster his best route to replacing Heaslip in the no 8 shirt for Ireland.
He has since be usurped by Doris at Leinster and doesn't figure in Irelands long term plans.
We could go back and remake the offer - he may be tempted now and I think would be a better fit than Deegan and Ruddock for what Ulster need

Seems we are talking to someone at Racing Metro - KOTH on the UAFC throwing out hints.
Originally I thought of Donnacha Ryan but from his cryptic clues I think he is referring to Bernard Le Roux

McFarland likes to get his contracts sorted early so I would expect a number of announcements in the next few weeks.
It does seem possible we could go into next season with only one or two  NIQ players - especially if deals like the ones above come off.


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Post by geoff999rugby Tue 26 Jan 2021, 10:38 am

Contract situation according to this site
https://www.thefrontrowunion.com/2021/01/ulster-players-out-of-contract-at-the-end-of-this-season/

Contracts up this year - with my predictions:

Matt Faddes - Will leave
Angus Curtis - Leave probably
Craig Gilroy - I am going to say Leave unless he takes a massive pay cut
Iain Henderson - central contract
Luke Marshall - has resigned
Rob Herring - will resign
Kieran Treadwell - will resign
Ian Madigan - will resign (as an aside he has been a model professional and great with the kids)
Alby Mathewson - as I mentioned 50/50
John Andrew - will resign
Louis Ludik - will leave, possibly retire
Andrew Warwick - will resign
Sam Carter - will probably leave

On the unsure ones my prediction on the assumption they are up this year:
To save typing the default is will resign
Robert Baloucoune - has resigned
James Hume
Bill Johnston
Greg Jones
Ross Kane
Michael Lowry
Adam McBurney - 50/50
Kyle McCall - will leave
David O’Connor
Alan O’Connor - has resigned
Eric O’Sullivan
Nick Timoney
Gareth Milasinovich
Marcus Rea

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Post by geoff999rugby Tue 26 Jan 2021, 4:20 pm

Treadwell, Andrew and Warwick have all resigned
As I predicted contracting signing will be coming thick and fast now

McBurney and McCall should be nervous, if their contracts are this year

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Post by Pete330v2 Tue 26 Jan 2021, 4:37 pm

Great to hear from you Geoff, this thread had almost breathed it's last.
2 things from all that:

Bernard Le Roux would be a fantastic signing, a proven international and very much able to do what Marcel had been doing. Dream signing, Ryan, not so much.

I really do hope you're right about Madigan, he has been top class, on and off the field from the moment he pulled on the Ulster jersey. Matthewson would be the cherry on top.

Once again, great to see you back Geoff.

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Post by geoff999rugby Tue 26 Jan 2021, 5:03 pm

KOTH likes his fun but he used the word Racing and implied it was someone capable of both lock and backrow.

My view is if money is short sign one of quality, two if we are lucky rather than a spread of so so players.
That's seems to be McFarland thinking.

Other than Matthewson there is absolutely no point wasting a spot in the backs on a NIQ, we have the talent necessary in house


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Post by geoff999rugby Wed 27 Jan 2021, 10:33 am

Nathan Doak given a 2 year contract same as Sexton

One year in development and one as a Full Contract

Two points of note - ALL contracts signed this week have been for 2 years.
Secondly to give both Sexton and Doak full contract so early shows a, well founded, belief in their potential.
I can see something similar happening for Reid, McIlroy and, maybe, Izuchukwu (although he is only a Year 1 Academy player so maybe next year)
McCann will get a full contract straight away now.

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Post by geoff999rugby Wed 27 Jan 2021, 10:36 am

Editing my contract post - deleting those who have signed
I also see that site I got the data from doesn't mention Dave Shanahan - he is this year.
In addition I have moved some to this year as I am 99% they are due (marked *)
I've also delete Lowry, O'Sullivan and Hume as I am as certain as I can be they are 2022 - they all signed 3 year contracts in 2019 I believe
Also reordered according to prediction

geoff999rugby wrote:

Contracts up this year - with my predictions:

Matt Faddes - Will leave
Louis Ludik - will leave, possibly retire
Kyle McCall * - will leave

Angus Curtis - Will probably leave
Sam Carter - will probably leave

Craig Gilroy - I am going to say Leave unless he takes a massive pay cut
Alby Mathewson - as I mentioned 50/50
Dave Shanahan * - as I mentioned 50/50

Iain Henderson - central contract

Rob Herring - will resign
Ian Madigan - will resign (as an aside he has been a model professional and great with the kids)
Ross Kane * - will resign
Gareth Milasinovich * - will resign
David O’Connor * - will resign

On the unsure ones my prediction on the assumption they are up this year:
To save typing the default is will resign
Bill Johnston
Greg Jones
Adam McBurney - 50/50
Nick Timoney
Marcus Rea

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Post by neilthom7 Wed 27 Jan 2021, 4:27 pm

Leone Nakarawa has signed on a 1 year deal.

Madigan and Herring have both signed contract extensions

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Post by clivemcl Wed 27 Jan 2021, 5:14 pm

Nakarawa for one year. I wonder if this is because he's seen as a risky signing. Didn't Racing have some discipline problems with him? Or was Leone in the right on that story?
Is it just due to his age, or has either party go something else lined up for when the contract ends?
He's not very young, but still, I would have expected the former European player of the year could have gotten a longer deal somewhere.

Is he our ball carrier replacement for Coetzee - does this suggest, at No.8 there will be no signing, or at least a signing who isn't know for ball carrying?

Also, with Ulster's pretty decent support running, I'm very much looking forward to his offloading game!

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Post by BigGee Wed 27 Jan 2021, 5:25 pm

Naks has not really played much since getting sacked by Racing. He has not turned out to be a grest signing for Glasgow second time around, he has never looked fit since returning.

So he is a bit if a risk, if you can get him fit and firing, he will be a fantastic player for you but with his age now and the record of the past few years, there is a big if about thst.

McFarland knows him well though and must feel he can get him back in the grove. Danny Wilson inherited him at Glasgow and you feel that he thinks the money could have been spent better.

A one year contract seems a sensible approach. It can always be extended if it works out.


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Post by geoff999rugby Wed 27 Jan 2021, 5:51 pm

Well Nakarawa fits the clues - he can play lock and backrow and he used to play for Racing.
The only reason it is a1 year contract Ireland rarely allow the sign of NIQ players over 30 for longer.

Seems no Leinster backrowers coming North.
With Madigan and Herring signing the only big decision left seem to be:

Shanahan/Matthewson, Gilroy, Faddes, Carter
In my predictions I would now move Carter to 50/50.

If there is no Leinster backrower coming in that suggest Nakarawa is primarily seen as a backrower so we need Carter to stay

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Post by Pete330v2 Thu 28 Jan 2021, 9:13 am

The oracle that is KOTH has stated that there will be no Leinster backrower coming which I've mixed feelings about. Why would you want to spend your season in a queue of backrowers waiting for a call up when you could be getting regular game time up here at Ulster? You'd have thought Nucifora would want the likes of Conan on show on a weekly basis but such is life.
As good as the Nakarawa signing is I was more pleased to see Madigan staying for 2 years, that's the one that made my day, he's been a great signing both on and off the pitch.
Nakarawa has not been at his best for some time and it's worrying that Racing felt the need to sack him but he know's Dan well and played some of his best rugby under his guidance so fingers crossed Dan can get the best out of him yet again. I think the culture of Ulster and Belfast will suit him well and the weather's slightly better that Scotland so he'll be well used to that Wink

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Post by Don Alfonso Thu 28 Jan 2021, 10:06 am

Don't often come back on here myself, but delighted to see Geoff floating about again.

You know a young buck starting to come through the system that can be our mole?

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Post by geoff999rugby Thu 28 Jan 2021, 10:23 am

Don good to see you here.

As mentioned my contacts have largely disappeared, plus of course Covid means not bumping into any ex players either.
Down to one senior player (automatically on the teamsheet) and a off field person who has a major (non Admin roll).
That could be increased by one this coming summer Wink

I have no concerns over Nakarawa.
Look at the record books - who was coaching him the year he landed the Racing contract ?
One D. McFarland that's who - 100% confident Dan is the man to get the best out of him.

Also would like to repeat what Pete said.
Some time ago Bryn described Ludik as the perfect professional, the way Madigan has conducted himself at Ulster that is an
accurate description of him as well.

Thinking further on the key outstanding decision - I think we can assume Faddes is away,
and that if he wants to stay Carter will be staying.
That leaves cover SH and what to do with Gilroy.
He is now just a squad player amongst many - his salary needs to reflect that; especially as money is tight.
Will he eat humble pie and take the big drop Ulster will be wanting?

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Post by clivemcl Thu 28 Jan 2021, 12:00 pm

Geoff, I wonder what your take is on Ulster backs and their potential not being reached?
Do we have a tendency to go overboard in our praise of young players, or are our young players just not being brought to their highest potential throughout their careers with Ulster?

It feels like every year there’s a new person to be excited about and yet many of the ones we got excited about in previous years are gone/squad filler, or a solid squad player who has a handful of Irish caps from years ago like McCloskey, Marshall and Gilroy.

Have we become satisfied with our home growns only becoming ‘solid’?

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Post by geoff999rugby Thu 28 Jan 2021, 2:27 pm

I have to ask who you have in mind.

For me McCloskey has never been given a fair crack of the whip.
Schmidt just didn't rate him at all - don't know why.
Farrell is, I think, struggling and is resorting to the safe option of when in doubt stick with the tried and trusted.
At 12 Henshaw is the only Irish born player you can put in front of McCloskey, McCloskey is a better player than Farrell.
Being 2nd best in your country is better than solid.

Marshall was unlucky with injuries  but is a far better player than he is given credit for.
He is the single most important player in the Ulster defence.
Also if you cast your mind back Marshall played alongside O'Driscoll a few times.
It was clear that O'Driscoll didn't trust Marshall defensively and he played tighter to him than D'Arcy.
As a result Ireland gave away some sloppy tries.
Didn't look good and Marshall took the wrap but it wasn't Marshalls defence that was at fault but an ageing decline O'Driscoll not being where he should be.

Gilroy is someone who started to believe his own hype and now he is just one of many.
So yes he has been a slight disappointment.

Overall though no one at Ulster is satisfied with anything other than the best.
I'll say it now - McFarland is, by a country mile, the best Head Coach we have every had
I'll say it now - the Academy set up now, is by a country mile, the best we have ever had.

We don't have Leinster  advantages but  other than them, 2/3 mega buck French sides we have no one to fear.
(ill leave Saracens out of the equation as who knows how good they will be if they don't break the salary cap)
That is better than solid, a lot better.

In the same way to suggest Marshall and McCloskey are solid is quite insulting to my mind.
If we didn't have a load of residency blow ins in the squad, in the backs - Gibson-Park, Aki, Lowe
and the team was selected on form/ability we would see more Ulster players in the set up.

Id also say I am really sorry but there is a southern biased in selection.
10 Munster players, 5 Ulster players
Given the respective abilities of the teams does anyone find that credible ??

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Post by Pete330v2 Thu 28 Jan 2021, 2:53 pm

It's not often I lose faith in Irish rugby but with Farrells squad selection for this 6 nations I am finding very hard to get excited. This time of year is usually when I'm like a child leading up to christmas, it's the only time of year I actually organise getting to the pub any more. This year, if the pubs were open, I'd not be bothering and would be watching at home.
Cooney's non-selection in the autumn nations cup I let slide, it was a nothing tournament that will quickly be forgotten. I thought Farrell was having a look at options etc. To not include Cooney now is simply criminal, unforgiveable, illogical....I'm at a loss.

If Farrell's excuse is that he's looking to the future etc then it's odd that he's backed a number of very old horses.

On form, Marshall and McCloskey would be one of the best midfield partnerships around by the way.

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Post by mikey_dragon Thu 28 Jan 2021, 3:38 pm

Andy Farrell is clueless. Anyway, latest rumour is Sam Carter to Dragons. Not sure where that leaves Ulster in the 2nd row, if big Naka is going to play mostly at 8.

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Post by geoff999rugby Thu 28 Jan 2021, 4:17 pm

If Carter was to leave Ulster would need an 8 or a Lock from somewhere.

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Post by geoff999rugby Thu 28 Jan 2021, 4:25 pm

Gilroy and Marcus Rea get one more.
So to further update my outstanding contracts list

geoff999rugby wrote:

Contracts up this year - with my predictions:

Matt Faddes - Will leave
Louis Ludik - will leave, possibly retire
Kyle McCall * - will leave

Angus Curtis - Will probably leave
Sam Carter - 50/50

Alby Mathewson - as I mentioned 50/50
Dave Shanahan * - as I mentioned 50/50

Iain Henderson - central contract

Ross Kane * - will resign
Gareth Milasinovich * - will resign
David O’Connor * - will resign

On the unsure ones my prediction on the assumption they are up this year:
To save typing the default is will resign
Bill Johnston
Greg Jones
Adam McBurney - 50/50
Nick Timoney

I suspect that Marcus Rea and Gilroy need to up their game to stay.

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Post by Don Alfonso Thu 28 Jan 2021, 4:36 pm

A year for Curtis as well. To prove he can go forty minutes without being injured.

I hope he can - he's a tidy player.

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Post by theslosty Thu 28 Jan 2021, 4:37 pm

geoff999rugby wrote:Id also say I am really sorry but there is a southern biased in selection.
10 Munster players, 5 Ulster players
Given the respective abilities of the teams does anyone find that credible ??
I'm not sure, I mean it keeps being repeated that Ulster are the clear 2nd province in Ireland - is there really any evidence of that yet. Ulster have made huge strides since McFarland came in but they were starting from a pretty low base. In the Pro14 Ulster and Munster have had very similar Pro14 seasons recently - the only difference is Munster get knocked out by Leinster in the semifinal and Ulster lose to Leinster in the final. It's a shame Munster couldn't close it out against Leinster last week as a final between Ulster and Munster at a neutral venue would have been interesting and quite hard to call. As for Europe, Ulster are 0 from 2 and Munster 2 from 2 - the evidence doesn't really stack up there either albeit a small sample size.

I don't think there's a 'southern bias', that just seems a little bit chip-on-the-shoulder to me and ignores that Connacht have had good players miss out too. However Leinster and Munster are still probably perceived as the two premier provinces and maybe that feeds in a little.

Anyway let's look at the Ulster and Munster players that did make the squad:

Ulster: Herring, O'Toole, Henderson, Burns, McCloskey
Munster: Kilcoyne, Beirne, POM, Stander, Murray, Casey, Farrell, Earls, Conway, Daly

Then players that were unlucky to miss out:
Ulster: O'Sullivan, Cooney
Munster: Ryan, Coombes, Haley

And finally players that would be selected but for injury:
Ulster: Addison, Stockdale
Munster: Carbery

O'Toole over Ryan is a selection I'm quite happy with but is quite marginal imo and is really about prioritising the future over the present. You could argue the same logic has been applied for Casey over Cooney but I can't see how you ignore the latter's form and even then it's a bit early for Casey imo. So I'll give you that one.
However either Byrne or Burns should have been left out for Carty imo.
I'm not sure why we're not taking a 3rd LH and EOS would probably be at the front of the queue if we did so there's another.
As for Munster, Coombes has fallen on the wrong side of a 50-50 call between himself and Ruddock. Haley I think deserved a call up but probably in favour of Daly so that one balances out.

The only true call where Munster have been favoured over Ulster is Casey vs Cooney for me and when you consider injuries too the headcount would probably be closer than 10-5. Overall if there is systemic anti-northern bias it would surely be a lot more blatant than the above.
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Post by geoff999rugby Thu 28 Jan 2021, 5:16 pm

Delighted for Curtis.
I was worried because of his injury - if signed that means Ulster are confident that he will be fine for next year

Also the Carter to Dragons rumour is rubbish
That fits with the fact that no Leinster players will be coming north


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Post by Kingshu Thu 28 Jan 2021, 10:32 pm

Thelosty I'm in agreement with Geoff over this one.
Its also nice to know Pete there are also Ulster fans like me that are now feeling about Ulster and Ireland the same way Scottish fans do when the Lions are selected.


As a aside from an earlier post about Ulster players beimg solid, I have no doubt that if McCloskey and Marshall and a number of other played for Leinster they would have double or triple the number of caps.

The problem with comparing them and saying you would select x over y, is that most Ulster players are not given a fair chance to stake a claim. For example McCloskey dispite being a better player is behind him as Farrel had one great game in the 6 Nations years ago. McCloskey has never had that chance.

To counter argue your points theslosty.
You said that when McF started with ulster they were at low base, Ulster that season won 12, and lost 7, Munster in comparison won 13 and lost 7. In Europe Ulster win 4 lost 2, Munster won 4 drew 1 lost one.
So hardly a gulf in class between them.
After DMcF stepped, Ulster and Munster both made SF in Pro 14, in HCup, Ulster went out QF after a close game against Leinster they could have won, Munster made the SF.
So about even maybe slight advantage Munster that year.
Last year Ulster made Pro 14 Final and HCup Qfinal.
Munster made pro 14 semi final, and didn't make it out of group in Europe.
Advantage Ulster.
This year, Ulster out of Europe but doing better in League.

So overall over the last number of years there really hasnt been much to seperate them, and both can make valid arguments to be the 2nd Province. Its prob both joint 2nd.

So you would expect similar represention in Ireland squads, however last Ireland squad there were 4 Ulster players, the lowest number picked from any Pro 14 team. Connacht had 5 players in the squad, and even dragons had more players called up to Wales. This time there are 5 Ulster players and 4 connacht players so its an improvement, meanwhile the team we agree that we are about evens with have 10-12 players picked each time?

As I mentioned theres little point comparing Ulster and Munster players as the Ulster ones havent been given a fair chance to stake a claim so will be underrated by fans. For example when Keenan was first selected he was picked as a winger, at that time Lyttle was in better form, had scored more tries, and more experience, had played HCup rugby for a number of games (Keenan may have had one Hcup game), yet its Keenan gets the call up and is now part of the squad. If Lyttle had got the call up he deserved before Keenan, he would be that squad member now, but he never got the chance and isnt even part of the conversion. The same thing happens over and over, Ulster players don't get that chance to stake a claim. RB is streets ahead of Keenan but when he returns will he be selected before Keenan? Seeing how other players have been treated I have my doubts.
Cooney, McCloskey, Marshall, EoS, ToT, all should have more than double the caps they have.

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Post by theslosty Thu 28 Jan 2021, 11:17 pm

Kingshu wrote:As a aside from an earlier post about Ulster players beimg solid, I have no doubt that if McCloskey and Marshall and a number of other played for Leinster they would have double or triple the number of caps.
Right, this sort of hypothetical that's impossible to prove or disprove doesn't usually yield a constructive debate but I shall engage it anyway. Are you saying that if McCloskey and Marshall would have more Ireland caps if they had won multiple Heineken Cups/Pro 14s? Or are you saying that as if they had a D4 accent?
For starters, Marshall has been injured so often I don't think he's the best example you could have picked. McCloskey definitely has been unlucky - mostly because the depth in centres has been very strong for Ireland recently (e.g. Tom Farrell still isn't capped) but also because it appeared that there was something in his game, possibly his defence, that Schmidt didn't like. However I'm not sure playing in blue would have helped as he would be stuck behind Henshaw as the 2nd choice 12.
Kingshu wrote:The problem with comparing them and saying you would select x over y, is that most Ulster players are not given a fair chance to stake a claim. For example McCloskey dispite being a better player is behind him as Farrel had one great game in the 6 Nations years ago. McCloskey has never had that chance.
Well if I'm being a pedantic McCloskey is a 12 and Farrell predominantly a 13. I don't agree that McCloskey is indisputably a better player - that is your opinion and not fact. I've seen Farrell have many good games in red and green and has had much more to his career than one good 6N game.
Kingshu wrote:
So overall over the last number of years there really hasnt been much to seperate them, and both can make valid arguments to be the 2nd Province. Its prob both joint 2nd.
Yes I agree, there isn't much to separate them but that isn't what was being said earlier in this thread. It was being spoken as if there is clear daylight between Ulster and Munster. That's why I would have liked to have seen the two in a full-blooded neutral venue Pro14 final, I would probably have Munster as slight favourites but that's just my own gut instinct and I can understand if you see different. However, if Munster can get Snyman and Carbery back fit then I think they have the potential to take a step closer to Leinster.
Kingshu wrote:So you would expect similar represention in Ireland squads, however last Ireland squad there were 4 Ulster players, the lowest number picked from any Pro 14 team. Connacht had 5 players in the squad, and even dragons had more players called up to Wales. This time there are 5 Ulster players and 4 connacht players so its an improvement, meanwhile the team we agree that we are about evens with have 10-12 players picked each time?
I mean being roughly equal teams doesn't necessarily dictate that the number of Ireland internationals should be the same, just for example having such a key NIQ player as Coetzee will skew things. I don't really see what relevance the number of Dragons players in the Wales squad has to this discussion.
Kingshu wrote:As I mentioned theres little point comparing Ulster and Munster players as the Ulster ones havent been given a fair chance to stake a claim so will be underrated by fans. For example when Keenan was first selected he was picked as a winger, at that time Lyttle was in better form, had scored more tries, and more experience, had played HCup rugby for a number of games (Keenan may have had one Hcup game), yet its Keenan gets the call up and is now part of the squad. If Lyttle had got the call up he deserved before Keenan, he would be that squad member now, but he never got the chance and isnt even part of the conversion. The same thing happens over and over, Ulster players don't get that chance to stake a claim. RB is streets ahead of Keenan but when he returns will he be selected before Keenan? Seeing how other players have been treated I have my doubts.
Cooney, McCloskey, Marshall, EoS, ToT, all should have more than double the caps they have.
Ah now I'm starting to struggle Kingshu. From what I've seen of them both, Keenan looks a far better footballer than Rob Lyttle to me. You're entitled to disagree but I'm not entertaining that one any further. Balacoune however I do rate and think he might have been capped by now if he'd stayed fit - when is he back? However again please don't present your opinion as fact - I do not agree that he is "streets ahead" of Keenan. It's a little strange that you've even focused on Keenan as he was MOTM against Ulster the other week. I think he may turn out a little underrated, he doesn't have that X-factor that as some other young back 3 players have but I think he could have quite a decent Ireland career as his fundamental skills look good.
Don't know why you're complaining about Tom O'Toole, a 22 year old TH, who's already been picked for multiple squads. O'Sullivan a touch unlucky but he hasn't even nailed down the Ulster #1 jersey yet, plus I'd argue if there's been an Irish LH that's been hard done by it's been Denis Buckley of Connacht. Can't believe he hasn't got even a single cap.

Anyway as we've previously established there are 10 Munster players selected to Ulster's 5. You think that they should be even.
I agree Cooney should be in over Casey. So that brings it to 9-6. What other changes would you make? EOS over Kilcoyne? Jordi Murphy over POM? Hume over Farrell? McIlroy over Earls? If I go on any further I'll struggle to keep a straight face.


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Post by Don Alfonso Fri 29 Jan 2021, 12:55 am

I don't agree with Kingshu. That the first point.

I think the main issue is injuries. If Addison and/ior Baloucoune is fit, Shane Daly should be nowhere near that squad, for me. Conway should be worried as well.

Your last paragraph makes no sense. Saying that Ulster players are under-rated, whether it's right or wrong, doesn't necessarily mean they lost out to Munster players. It is not, in that sense, a zero sum game. You could have Alan O'Connor there instead iof Quinn Roux, or Treadwell, and it would be 10 v 6, yet for some reason, you're acting like the only players Ulster players could replace would be Munster players.

So while Kingshu might be biased, you are just being disingenuous.

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Post by theslosty Fri 29 Jan 2021, 1:45 am

Fair cop, I agree that injuries are the bigger factor here - as I detailed earlier Munster only have Carbery missing in that regard. I'm not necessarily denying Ulster have some underrated players, I'm more just challenging Geoff's assertion that there's an anti-northern bias in the IRFU. I think there is possibly a leaning towards Leinster and Munster as they are still seen as the "big two" in Irish rugby even if results don't always bear that out (generally over the last 20 years they have though). But I think if that is true Connacht have lost out just the same as Ulster have.

The last paragraph was really asking which Munster players are lucky and Ulster players unlucky. Conway yeah he has had a quiet six months but I'd still have him in Ireland's top 4 wingers - form is temporary etc. Daly if I'm honest I haven't seen enough of to make an informed judgment, Balacoune would definitely be up there if he was fit but on this occasion I think Mike Haley was probably the player who lost out.
You're right to highlight Quinn Roux as that's another controversial selection but I'd say Jean Kleyn and Ryan Baird offer more than O'Connor or Treadwell, decent provincial players the latter two may be. I don't mind debating this more generally but we ought to broaden it beyond the most recent squad, as all I can really say from an Ulster POV is that (Cooney aside) O'Toole and Burns won marginal calls and EOS lost one.
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Post by Don Alfonso Fri 29 Jan 2021, 9:07 am

theslosty wrote:Fair cop, I agree that injuries are the bigger factor here - as I detailed earlier Munster only have Carbery missing in that regard. I'm not necessarily denying Ulster have some underrated players, I'm more just challenging Geoff's assertion that there's an anti-northern bias in the IRFU. I think there is possibly a leaning towards Leinster and Munster as they are still seen as the "big two" in Irish rugby even if results don't always bear that out (generally over the last 20 years they have though). But I think if that is true Connacht have lost out just the same as Ulster have.

The last paragraph was really asking which Munster players are lucky and Ulster players unlucky. Conway yeah he has had a quiet six months but I'd still have him in Ireland's top 4 wingers - form is temporary etc. Daly if I'm honest I haven't seen enough of to make an informed judgment, Balacoune would definitely be up there if he was fit but on this occasion I think Mike Haley was probably the player who lost out.
You're right to highlight Quinn Roux as that's another controversial selection but I'd say Jean Kleyn and Ryan Baird offer more than O'Connor or Treadwell, decent provincial players the latter two may be. I don't mind debating this more generally but we ought to broaden it beyond the most recent squad, as all I can really say from an Ulster POV is that (Cooney aside) O'Toole and Burns won marginal calls and EOS lost one.

Yeah, that's all fair enough. Only thig I'd disagree with I don't imagine the Burns call was marginal - Carty, like Cooney, just doesn't seem to be rated.

The EOS/TOT decisions are odd - Marty Moore tends to start against the top scrumming teams at provincial level (although it's not that cut and dried, and McFarland clearly plans out the use of the bench), while EOS has been comfortable in the scrum against Georgia. You'd think if one got in and not another, it would be the other way round. And it's not like EOS isn't impressive around the pitch. Just highlights how little we see of what goes into selection decisions.

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Post by geoff999rugby Fri 29 Jan 2021, 9:33 am

Firstly of course everything here are opinions they are no absolutes  but I'll throw out a few, what I believe to be well founded opinion, with some actual facts throw in.
I think we have a warped situation brought about, in large part, because Schmidt came from Leinster and his first instinct, throughout his tenure was to revert to Leinster first and
Munster second when there were any marginal calls. This is continuing with Farrell and is actually worse because Farrell doe not have Schmidts coaching skills

The two selected LH for Ireland are getting on - neither will see 32.
EOS has already gone past Dooley and Bryne in terms of playing levels
Neither of the two other senior loose heads at Munster will see 30 again
None of the senior Loose heads at Connacht will see 29 again.
Given the level of performance of EOS and the age of the alternatives it is criminal EOS is not in the squad

theslosty wrote:Jean Kleyn and Ryan Baird offer more than O'Connor or Treadwell.
This is an good example of where I fundamentally disagree.
Baird looks a decent player but to be honest in the recent 'A' fixture he was totally out played by Izuchukwu.
Need to see more of Baird but I think he is being hyped because lock is the one place, Ryan apart, that Leinster are struggling to produce top players.
Toner is old and Moloney isn't good enough.
As for Kleyn, I actually prefer O'Connor.
For me Kleyn is the most overrated lock in Irish rugby and O'Connor the most underrated one.

I also suggest there are some red faces in Dublin that they let EOS and AOC go - they would be useful addition to the Leinster squad and
marked improvements on Bryne/Dooley and Moloney respectively.

I would also draw attention to two players who look likely to be discarded by Leinster and Munster.
Adam Bryne - played for Ireland. If he had been at Ulster he would have not got near the Ireland squad.
Hell at the time he wasn't even good enough to make the Ulster first XV.

Tommy O'Donnell got double figures in caps - it is my contention he would have got nowhere near that if an Ulster player

I'll throw out two more curve balls - Andrew is out performing both Heffernan and Kelleher at the moment
(Kelleher may be a prospect but until he improves his throwing he is going nowhere)
If Daly why not Lowry?
Don't get me wrong Daly is a fine prospect but so is Lowry.
We were told when Lowry was put at 15 - he'll be exposed he is not big enough (same height as Colby and Williams) Not doing to bad is he.
Lowry is a hell of a lot more ready for the international stage than Casey.

The last point and the crux of the matter is why if Munster and Ulster are, roughly, the same standard do Munster get so many more players in the squad?
If the Munster squad have more to offer is it because Munster are underperforming with the players they have, or are Ulster over performing with the players they have.
Or is it something else? - I think it is something else


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Post by Pete330v2 Fri 29 Jan 2021, 9:52 am

It doesn't and can't simply come down to numbers from each province. If there were no Ulster players deserving of a place I'd not feel remotely aggrieved if none were selected for Ireland. I'm an Ulster fan first, an Ireland fan second and am quite happy to retain our players for the Ulster cause. The fact remains that Cooney stands out as a glaring example of how Farrell is getting the selections wrong. Casey and JGP are not the same level as Cooney and Murray is well past his sell by date. In fact the Murray/Sexton axis has gone decidedly stale and Andy Farrell had this golden opportunity to shake things up, even just a tad yet he's baffled logic yet again. You want your best players selected for the international side especially one that's been found out and found wanting of late. Can it be fixed by doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome?
Just as the Murray/Sexton axis has a mutual familiarity the Burns/Cooney axis has developed an mutual understanding too but we won't get to see that in green. McCloskey, like Marshall has been unfortunate in appearing on the scene when Irish centre stocks are full to brimming. Schmidt didn't like players who set one foot outside his formula and Stuart probably fell victim to that and still remains persona non-grata to an extent as a hangover from the Schmidt era. The EOS dilemma, like Cooney's is a head scratcher.

As it stands I'm prepared for more of the same this 6 nations, I'd hoped for at least a glimmer of a new dawn under a new coach but it seems as far away as ever. Joe Schmidt was and is a brilliant coach but he refused to evolve his formula. Those who do that fall by the wayside when they're formulas are worked out.

It's time to cast off the old and dead wood but Farrell's not the man to do it and if Ulster suffer because John Cooney amongst others sod off for more money in France (who'd blame them?) there's only one man to blame.

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Post by clivemcl Fri 29 Jan 2021, 10:06 am

I guess my question didn’t take into consideration potential selection bias. Stockdale of course could be said forced himself into the national team because he was undeniably good. Surely you would concede McCloskey, Marshall and Gilroy weren’t quite as stand out. Perhaps it’s easier to grab attention when you play well in the wing.
I would say, I feel in recent seasons, Cooney has in fact displayed that undeniable class like Stockdale has. Which makes his non-selection all the more infuriating. The lad must be asking what more he can do.
And this uptick in his career is a direct result of Ireland strategy. They fought hard against us wanting to keep Pienaar, sent us a player most of us felt ‘meh’ about. And it turned out to be a stroke of genius.
Their strategy couldn’t not have worked better. A fantastic Irish scrum half! ...and then they ignore him... Rolling Eyes

Anyways, great to see you back Geoff! Much appreciate your insight and wisdom!


Edit: just realising there’s like 5 more posts I hadn’t read yet!
The thread is alive! It’s alliiiiiiiiiiive!

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Post by geoff999rugby Fri 29 Jan 2021, 11:06 am

Clive it is obviously true some players are better than others.
By extension it is quite reasonable to say Stockdale is more of a stand out player than McCloskey, Marshall and Gilroy.
However it is my contention that players at the McCloskey, Marshall and Gilroy level have got a better crack at it when player for other provinces e.g. Tommy O'Donnell.

Michael Bent is another example - shoo horned into the Ireland side with very little playing experience to justify it.

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Post by geoff999rugby Fri 29 Jan 2021, 11:12 am

Agreed Clive glad to be back pontificating again Very Happy

Also don't mind stirring the pot a little to encourage a lively debate Run

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Post by clivemcl Fri 29 Jan 2021, 11:22 am

Let’s keep it going! Dreamland here.

Geoff, if there were no restrictions, and you could sign a world class player for any position right now, what position would you sign?

Just a Coetzee replacement?

Could we do with a bit of electricity in the backs? An individual brilliance, something out of nothing type player like a Kolbe?

Also, what’s the status of Addison’s injury? I have to admit I’ve lost track.

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Post by Pete330v2 Fri 29 Jan 2021, 12:28 pm

clivemcl wrote:Let’s keep it going! Dreamland here.

Geoff, if there were no restrictions, and you could sign a world class player for any position right now, what position would you sign?

Just a Coetzee replacement?

Could we do with a bit of electricity in the backs? An individual brilliance, something out of nothing type player like a Kolbe?

Also, what’s the status of Addison’s injury? I have to admit I’ve lost track.

Who wants Kolbe when we have Cheslin Lowry Smile Smile

Someone on t'other forum, I think it was KOTH, mentioned a mid february return for Addison but that looks unlikely surely or is he training?

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Post by geoff999rugby Fri 29 Jan 2021, 1:32 pm

Balacoune - February, Addison - March is my prediction

Choice of any player? - would be a No 8 for me

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Post by Don Alfonso Fri 29 Jan 2021, 3:35 pm

Sam Carter til 2023

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