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Ulster 2023/2024 Season

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Don Alfonso
demosthenes
jimbopip
clivemcl
Pot Hale
Kingshu
geoff999rugby
Maine man
Pete330v2
Welshmushroom
Unclear
LeinsterFan4life
carpet baboon
neilthom7
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Ulster 2023/2024 Season Empty Ulster 2023/2024 Season

Post by neilthom7 Mon 16 Oct 2023, 9:02 pm

For the good, the bad and the ugly of Ulster rugby this season. Lets hope mostly good.

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Post by carpet baboon Tue 17 Oct 2023, 11:36 am

Well the only hope I have for this year is some of the young lads putting in noteworthy performance's.

Postlethwaite I want to see more of, but we do have a good few centres, hope he's not forgotten about

Sheridan I can see being used like a young Hendy moved between second row and 6, but want to see him get decent game time
Would also hope Corothers sees some decent game time

Would be good to see Hume and Doak rediscover some of there previous form.
And if Izuchukwu stays fit I hope he can turn his obvious athleticism into a decent powerful second row.

Don't think I'm asking for much.

Also not seen any of the warm up games, any players put their hand up?

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Post by LeinsterFan4life Tue 17 Oct 2023, 11:43 am

carpet baboon wrote:Well the only hope I have for this year is some of the young lads putting in noteworthy performance's.

Postlethwaite I want to see more of, but we do have a good few centres, hope he's not forgotten about

Sheridan I can see being used like a young Hendy moved between second row and 6, but want to see him get decent game time
Would also hope Corothers sees some decent game time

Would be good to see Hume and Doak rediscover some of there previous form.
And if Izuchukwu stays fit I hope he can turn his obvious athleticism into a decent powerful second row.

Don't think I'm asking for much.

Also not seen any of the warm up games, any players put their hand up?
Aaron Sexton scored a great try against us in pre season. He has his glaring issues but get him into space and he's dangerous.

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Post by carpet baboon Tue 17 Oct 2023, 12:06 pm

When he backs himself his pace and size is phenomenal, but his rugby brain isn't quite there. Hope it suddenly all clicks as he could be extremely dangerous

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Post by Unclear Tue 17 Oct 2023, 4:49 pm

The squad according to the website :

Props : James French, Ben Griffin, Steven Kitshoff, Marty Moore, Eric O'Sullivan, Tom O'Toole, Callum Reid, Andrew Warwick
Hookers : John Andrew, Rob Herring, James McCormick, Tom Stewart
Lock : Ian Henderson (captain), Cormac Izuchukwu, Alan O'Connor, Harry Sheridan (also Back Row), Kieran Treadwell
Back Row : Reuben Crothers, Dave Ewers, Greg Jones, David McCann, Matty Rea, Marcus Rea, Sean Reffell, Nick Timoney
Scrum Half : John Cooney, Nathan Doak, Conor McKee, Dave Shanahan
Fly Half : Billy Burns, Angus Curtis (also Centre), Jake Flannery, Mike Lowery
Centre : Ben Carson, James Hume, Luke Marshall, Stuart McCloskey, Stewart Moore, Ben Moxham, Jude Postlethwaite
Universal Back (that's what it says!) : Will Addison
Wing : Robert Baloucoune, Jacob Stockdale
Full Back/Wing : Ethan McIlroy, Aaron Sexton
Full Back : Shea O'Brien

OK, so :
 - not sure what a "universal back" is
 - Steven Kitshoff isn't actually on the squad list on the website but is listed as unavailable for the weekend
 - Lowery just listed as Fly Half, not doubling up like so many others
 - who are James French and Ben Griffin and which sides do they play?
 - know nothing of Jame McCormick or Conor McKee

Right, I've displayed my ignorance on various of the squad members, please enlighten me and have at it on the depth at various positions.

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Post by Welshmushroom Tue 17 Oct 2023, 5:39 pm

Universal Back usually refers to players than can play multiple positions. Usually Centre & Wing but sometimes can also be a number of positions from 10-15.

Kitschoff is busy at the World Cup.

Lowry will probably continue at full back.

James French young tighthead from Munster. Ben Griffin also a tighthead from Clontarf on a development contract. Both young and experienced at this level.

McCormick a young hooker and McKee also a young scrum half. Don't know much about those 2 myself. Dont think they have much URC experience though.

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Post by Unclear Tue 17 Oct 2023, 6:10 pm

Thanks Welshmushroom!

Addison has played centre and full back for Ulster not sure about wing. His fitness has been the biggest issue and while it is great to see him back, my expectations aren't great given his history. Looks like he is needed most at full back.

Makes sense that both French and Griffin are tight heads given the lack of other cover. Moore listed as still injured and O'Toole still held by the international squad means it looks like Warwick having to cover TH unless these 2 both come good.

Also hope McCormick comes good as both Herring and Stewart could be away at Ireland training later in the year.

I'm sure I am reading way too much into the positions quoted on the website.

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Post by neilthom7 Tue 17 Oct 2023, 7:58 pm

Quite a few injuries for this URC weekends opener along with the internationals off course.

Iain Henderson, Rob Herring, Stuart McCloskey, Tom O'Toole and Steven Kitshoff are unavailable due to international duties.

John Cooney- Calf
Alan O'Connor- Ankle
Luke Marshall- Concussion
Eric O'Sullivan-Shoulder
Sean Reffell- Ankle
Greg Jones- Shoulder
Marty Moore- Knee (picked up v Munster last season)
James McCormick- Shoulder

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Post by carpet baboon Tue 17 Oct 2023, 8:00 pm

Is it a concern to anyone else that Luke Marshall has another concussion?

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Post by neilthom7 Wed 18 Oct 2023, 10:39 am

It’s a concern to Ulster no doubt, they are following concussion protocols on it for now but you would assume that he cannot keep having these

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Post by Pete330v2 Wed 18 Oct 2023, 2:39 pm

There's only so many concussions a guy can have before he's told no more, hang up the boots. I hope this isn't the case with Luke but I hope his future health is being protected.

That's quite the sick list before the season has even begun which doesn't help my pessimistic concern for the season. I'm so pessimistic that I've not subscribed to Viaplay this year, that's the first year I've not got a subscription for URC coverage. I have other means but it still tells a story. Maybe it's the Ireland effect, optimism levels at an all time low. Sad

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Post by neilthom7 Wed 18 Oct 2023, 3:11 pm

Considering viaplay are pulling out of the market soon it’s probably best not to subscribe to them anyways.
However I am with you on your point, it feels quite pessimistic going into the season.
The way last season ended, the fact coaching hasn’t changed, the injuries, poor pre season all combine I think on that front.

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Post by carpet baboon Wed 18 Oct 2023, 3:42 pm

My major hope is 5 or 6 of the youngster's get plenty of chances to show they can play at a high level
And that we use another ten now and again rather than flogging Billy to death

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Post by carpet baboon Wed 18 Oct 2023, 3:45 pm

Also any rumours who will be picking up the TV coverage?

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Post by Welshmushroom Wed 18 Oct 2023, 5:07 pm

Nothing so far. I'm subbed to Viaplay and the schedule on there for at least the next month looks like they are covering every match. Also the URC website is still showing them for all the games this year.

I found another article stating they will be showing Scottish football for the season. I reckon it's probably save to assume they will therefore keep the URC for the season as well.

Given the length of the TV deal they probably are looking for a buyer for the URC rights so they can recoup some money - and they won't make a strong case if the viewing figures are not available before that sale.

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Post by Welshmushroom Wed 18 Oct 2023, 5:14 pm

Also some users said when speaking to the cancellation team at viaplay that they have no plans to pull the content for URC 23/24 season.

I paid for my 1 year sub when they had the deal so will be covered until the end of the season. After that i will probably hold off until I know where the URC is going next year.

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Post by Maine man Wed 18 Oct 2023, 8:06 pm

At the moment the Ulster game is on Viaplay 1 on Saturday. I got that 59 quid for the year deal. I don't mind a bit of Spanish wendyball either so it's decent value.
As for the team this weekend I'm slightly annoyed that O'Toole hasn't been made available. He was hardly flogged in France. But it is an opportunity for some youngsters to give it a lash in the upcoming weeks.

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Post by geoff999rugby Fri 20 Oct 2023, 10:03 am

Maine man wrote:  
As for the team this weekend I'm slightly annoyed that O'Toole hasn't been made available. He was hardly flogged in France. But it is an opportunity for some youngsters to give it a lash in the upcoming weeks.

Not at TH - it will be Andy Warwick, with the guy from Jersey Reds on the bench
Looks like a front row of Reid, Stewart, Warwick to me
Lock will be interesing - who partners Treadwell - Sheridan or Izzy - please not Matty Rea

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Post by carpet baboon Fri 20 Oct 2023, 12:27 pm

Interesting line up.
Matty Rea in the row with Treadwell
Lowry on the wing
Curtis at 12.
Good to see Addison back. Hope he stays injury free

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Post by neilthom7 Fri 20 Oct 2023, 12:52 pm

Izzy must have seriously pissed someone off if Rea is in the row instead of him

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Post by carpet baboon Fri 20 Oct 2023, 1:10 pm

Does seem odd.
With Flannery, Curtis, Lowry and Addison that's 4 that have played 10 to some degree. Will be interesting how that works

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Post by Welshmushroom Fri 20 Oct 2023, 4:37 pm

The Zebre lineup actually looks pretty good. I actually think Ulster might have their work cut out for them on this one.

Really surprised to see Lucchin & Paea at 12 and 13. Main question will be if Zebre can get enough ball to feed that backline.

Think Ulster still have to much for them up front but this game could end up being close.....

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Post by neilthom7 Fri 20 Oct 2023, 5:10 pm

Full team is

(15-9): Will Addison, Michael Lowry, James Hume, Angus Curtis, Jacob Stockdale, Jake Flannery, Nathan Doak;

(1-8): Andy Warwick, Tom Stewart (C), Greg McGrath, Matty Rea, Kieran Treadwell, Dave Ewers, Marcus Rea, David McCann.

Replacements: John Andrew, Callum Reid, James French, Cormac Izuchukwu, Nick Timoney, Dave Shanahan, Billy Burns, Stewart Moore

Odd that Lowry is playing wing, he's never played ther before as far as I know. Rea in at 2nd row is a nightmare, he's not even a good backrow let alone 2nd row. Hardly a world class front row either, this may not be a very good start for Ulster

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Post by Unclear Fri 20 Oct 2023, 6:06 pm

For me the positives are :
Addison back after all the injuries
Flannery actually getting a start so we can see how he goes
Tom Stewart as captain has got to be a boost for the youngster

The head-scratchers:
Lowery on the wing - what has happened to Baloucoune and McIlroy?
Matty Rea at second row - really?

The lets just hope they go well;
Greg McGrath and James French at tight head - they could be playing a lot in the next few months.

Not overly confident for this game or even the season.

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Post by Kingshu Fri 20 Oct 2023, 6:25 pm

We should be beating Zebre, but they do start the season strong each year, Rem 4 points picked up V Leinster and Sharks first two games last year a try BP agaisnt Lions year before.

We should be confident of a win, but no one is with this Ulster team

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Post by carpet baboon Fri 20 Oct 2023, 7:28 pm

With Lowry I can only assume they are looking at him to perform a bit of a Mac Hansen role and give him license to roam off his wing, add in his quick feet and it could be a genius move and he could become the Irish Kolbe.
Or it could be a terrible idea that goes horribly wrong.

Tight head. I hope these two show they can anchor the scrum and we have unlocked their potential in pre season as, let's be honest we don't actually have any other options at the moment.

And Rea in the row? Last chance to impress maybe? Izzy has a niggle and we don't want to risk him for the full 80? Honestly absolutely no idea. Sheridan is fit isn't he?

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Post by carpet baboon Mon 23 Oct 2023, 12:47 pm

Well here is what I think of the game.
As a team our defence is absolutely frikin abysmal, and far too many individuals were falling off simple head on tackles.

Rea is not a second row, hopefully it's the last time we see him there.
Lowry did ok on the wing, would have liked to see him pop up in midfield more often.
Curtis just isn't good enough at 12.
Great to see Addison back, but he was off the pace, hope he can get up to speed and quickly
Tight heads we are screwed
Flannery did ok but needs to up his game if he wants to be the starting 10
Stockdale took his trys well, but did he seem a little slow?
Thought Izzy looked good when he came on.
Treadwell had a decent game.
McCann looks like he's bulked up a bit, had an ok game.
Not many good points if I'm honest.
Sunday may be painful

But there is always hope

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Post by carpet baboon Sun 29 Oct 2023, 8:50 pm

Well a better performance this week and a win against the bulls.
Good points: I thought all the young ones ( Izzy, Jude, McCann and Sheridan) looked good
Tom O'Tool is a machine.
Stockdale looks like he's getting his mojo back.
The defence was "better" but....

Not so good: still fell off a good few first up tackles
Lineout went missing in the last 20
Hume seems to be way off the pace in attack and defence.
Not clinical enough in the 22.
Injuries to Izzy and Ewers

But a wins a win.
On to next week

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Post by Kingshu Mon 30 Oct 2023, 10:57 am

David Humphreys is looking ever likelier to be named as the IRFU's successor to David Nucifora.



Will this result in Ulster getting looked after better?

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Post by Pete330v2 Mon 30 Oct 2023, 11:55 am

Kingshu wrote:David Humphreys is looking ever likelier to be named as the IRFU's successor to David Nucifora.



Will this result in Ulster getting looked after better?


If a Ruan Peinaar situation occurs again, would Humphreys act differently ? Would he be able to remove his Ulster bias?
Unfortunately I believe he could perhaps in an effort to prove he has removed his Ulster bias. Therefore my answer Kingshu is unfortunately no Crying or Very sad

I had hoped he might return to the Ulster fold in some form but that IRFU gig would be hard to refuse.

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Post by Pete330v2 Mon 30 Oct 2023, 12:00 pm

carpet baboon wrote:Well a better performance this week and a win against the bulls.
Good points: I thought all the young ones ( Izzy, Jude, McCann and Sheridan) looked good
Tom O'Tool is a machine.
Stockdale looks like he's getting his mojo back.
The defence was "better" but....

Not so good: still fell off a good few first up tackles
Lineout went missing in the last 20
Hume seems to be way off the pace in attack and defence.
Not clinical enough in the 22.
Injuries to Izzy and Ewers

But a wins a win.
On to next week

I enjoyed that match and especially the grit shown in keeping the rampaging Bulls at bay in the end.
I think most of the players are still getting up to speed which bodes well and I'll certainly hope to see stronger performances to come. Stockdale looks like he could be on the cusp of rolling back the years, Hume not so much. We need big Stu back to get Hume functioning again but he's been off the boil since he got the injury playing for Ireland. Addison is still well off his usual form but you can see the rugby brain is still at 100% so once the rust leaves the body, he's going to be a class act to call upon.
2 from 2, happy days seeing as I predicted one win on the run up to Xmas Sorry

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Post by carpet baboon Tue 31 Oct 2023, 5:07 pm

Frack sake. We get O'Tool back for one game and now he's gone for a month after groin surgery.
Izzy and Ewers had HIAs so are going through the process.
Treadwell also out with a hip injury.

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Post by carpet baboon Tue 31 Oct 2023, 5:12 pm

So in the second row we have O'Connor and Sheridan, with Rea as back up for next week. Can we assume Henderson won't be available till Christmas?

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Post by neilthom7 Tue 31 Oct 2023, 5:40 pm

I did wonder if that pitch would give us more muscle and joint injuries this year. Not saying any of these had anything to do with that of course but just will be interesting to see come the end of the season.

Not ideal in the second row when you consider the lineout hasn't been going top notch without injuries. With a bit of luck Izzy and Ewers will be okay soon.

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Post by Pot Hale Wed 01 Nov 2023, 1:11 pm

Ulster fans must be pleased with IRFU announcement today that David Humphreys will take over the top rugby job as Performance Director from David Nucifora next year.
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Post by carpet baboon Wed 01 Nov 2023, 5:28 pm

I would say I'm pleased for him and glad he's back in Irish rugby.
Can't foresee to much change

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Post by clivemcl Fri 03 Nov 2023, 10:44 am

First post this season.

Just a few things that have been rattling round my head.

Flannery looks incredibly lightweight. I don't think I quite realised until Billy Burns came on for him and looked like a unit by comparison. Happy to give Flannery more chances - but early doors, I just don't think he has much potential personally.
Happy to be proved wrong.

Secondly, Lowry - listed as an out-half, plays firs game on wing, then starts on bench...
Are we in danger of ruining another players career chances by using him as a full utility player?
Is Lowry not good enough to own a shirt?

Addison looked much better against the Bulls. To be honest - against Zebre, I was wondering how much money we had wasted holding onto him the past few years.

We have injury problems in the forwards, and yet in the backs, we can only really play 3 of the 4 - Addison, Lowry, Baloucoune, Stockdale. I would assume Lowry starts if it was a European game.

Is McFarland just being intentional about giving Addison game time to get him back up and running... or rather - get the moneys worth out of him before he breaks again?
Or is it just necessary to have Lowry's versatility as the bench option?

Would you ever consider Burns at 12 with Lowry at 10?

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Post by Maine man Fri 03 Nov 2023, 12:51 pm

Team up. First defeat of the season coming me thinks. Not sure French cuts the mustard at this level

Ulster: Will Addison; Aaron Sexton, James Hume, Stewart Moore, Ethan McIlroy Jake Flannery, Dave Shanahan; Eric O'Sullivan, John Andrew, James French; Alan O'Connor (capt), Harry Sheridan; Matty Rea, Reuben Crothers, Nick Timoney.

Replacements: Tom Stewart, Andy Warwick, Greg McGrath, Joe Hopes, David McCann, Nathan Doak, Billy Burns, Ben Moxham.

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Post by Maine man Fri 03 Nov 2023, 12:52 pm

BTW, who's Joe Hopes?

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Post by carpet baboon Fri 03 Nov 2023, 1:12 pm

I was wondering about Hopes myself.

I wouldn't say this our strongest team. But with 19 players unavailable it's what we got

Good to see O'Sullivan back

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Post by clivemcl Fri 03 Nov 2023, 1:26 pm

What happened Stockade, Balacoune, Lowry and Posthelwaite?
Didn't hear about any injuries to them.

Yep, first loss incoming. I've not much hope in Hopes!

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Post by clivemcl Fri 03 Nov 2023, 1:28 pm

Rob Baloucoune (Hamstring), Jacob Stockdale (Ankle), Mike Lowry (Groin), Jude Postlethwaite (Hamstring)

Not looking good from our new surface.

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Post by carpet baboon Fri 03 Nov 2023, 2:07 pm

clivemcl wrote:Rob Baloucoune (Hamstring), Jacob Stockdale (Ankle), Mike Lowry (Groin), Jude Postlethwaite (Hamstring)

Not looking good from our new surface.

It does raise a few questions

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Post by Pete330v2 Fri 03 Nov 2023, 2:26 pm

carpet baboon wrote:
clivemcl wrote:Rob Baloucoune (Hamstring), Jacob Stockdale (Ankle), Mike Lowry (Groin), Jude Postlethwaite (Hamstring)

Not looking good from our new surface.

It does raise a few questions

There were a few stats flying about as to why we shouldn't have installed the new surface, increased joint / tendon injuries was one. The thing needs ripped up, rugby is played on grass and mud, always has been, always should IMO.

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Post by Unclear Fri 03 Nov 2023, 2:42 pm

Connacht team is up :

15. Tiernan O’Halloran (223) 14. Byron Ralston (17) 13. Tom Farrell (101) 12. Cathal Forde (15) 11. Diarmuid Kilgallen (18) 10. Jack Carty (196) 9. Caolin Blade (172) 1. Denis Buckley (230) 2. Dylan Tierney-Martin (26) 3. Jack Aungier (52) 4. Oisín Dowling (46) 5. Joe Joyce (2) 6. Shamus Hurley-Langton (22) 7. Conor Oliver (64) 8. Cian Prendergast (49)

16. Tadgh McElroy (2) 17. Jordan Duggan (40) 18. Dominic Robertson-McCoy (81) 19. Niall Murray (58) 20. Jarrad Butler (116) 21. Colm Reilly (19) 22. David Hawkshaw (14) 23. Andrew Smith (1)

Looks like a bit of a test of strength in depth for both sides.  What's the weather due to be like?  Ulster have a history of not really turning up for these games, what are the chances the coaching staff can get them motivated for this one?  At the moment I would take a performance of grit and fight even if we look at bit light on the talent and ability in many areas.

I think I've been reading too many Scottish and Welsh ( Hug )doomfest threads and my glass isn't even anywhere near as well stocked as half empty.

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Post by geoff999rugby Fri 03 Nov 2023, 3:09 pm

Maine man wrote:Team up. First defeat of the season coming me thinks. Not sure French cuts the mustard at this level

Ulster: Will Addison; Aaron Sexton, James Hume, Stewart Moore, Ethan McIlroy Jake Flannery, Dave Shanahan; Eric O'Sullivan, John Andrew, James French; Alan O'Connor (capt), Harry Sheridan; Matty Rea, Reuben Crothers, Nick Timoney.

Replacements: Tom Stewart, Andy Warwick, Greg McGrath, Joe Hopes, David McCann, Nathan Doak, Billy Burns, Ben Moxham.

Ulster have thrown in the towel with this team - even with injuries nowhere close to the best team.
4 of the bench are better thanthe player starting in their position.

Looks to me they are playing weakened teams away and full strength away.
Got away with it in Parma, no chance in Galway.

Connacht are much stronger - Denis Buckley will be licking his lips.
McGrath is no more than adequate.
I am struggling to remember a weaker TH playing for Ulster than French - he looks totally out of his depth to me.

Plastic pitch already taking its toll Crying or Very sad Sad Whistle


Last edited by geoff999rugby on Fri 03 Nov 2023, 3:13 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Post by geoff999rugby Fri 03 Nov 2023, 3:11 pm

On a more positive note be good to see Crothers and Hopes.

Hopes is a very promising Lock - only 19 years old.

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Post by geoff999rugby Fri 03 Nov 2023, 3:18 pm

Welcome back Clive

clivemcl wrote: We have injury problems in the forwards, and yet in the backs, we can only really play 3 of the 4 - Addison, Lowry, Baloucoune, Stockdale. I would assume Lowry starts if it was a European game.

I would not assume anything of the sort.
Bottom line Baloucoune and Stockdale are much better wingers and a fully fit Addison is a better 15.
Tough on Lowry but if everyone fit - he's on the bench.

clivemcl wrote: Would you ever consider Burns at 12 with Lowry at 10?  

Never in a million years - drop McCloskey !

Also with those 2 is putting up a 'we are weak in defence' notice to any half decent opposition.
Both brave guys but neither close to being strong enough to play 12

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Post by clivemcl Fri 03 Nov 2023, 4:05 pm

I wouldn't suggest it to displace McCloskey - just simply if he was unavailable. Like last week.
Addison showed great glimpses against Bulls. He did not against Zebre. In fact at times he was a disaster.

Addison at his best is perhaps better than Lowry, but for this current squad I wouldn't say he's definitely ahead of Lowry until he proves it. McFarland is obviously giving him the opportunity to prove it.

I'm happy to see competition put great players on the bench. This weeks injury list proves how vital strong depth is in modern rugby.

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Post by geoff999rugby Fri 03 Nov 2023, 4:25 pm

After MCloskey Moore, Postlewaite and Marshall are all comfortably ahead of Burns or Lowry ever playing 12.
In fact you can almost certainly add Curtis and Hume to that list.

So at best 6th in the pecking order.

I don't think McFarland is just giving Addison a chance to prove himself, I think he regards him as a must have to win vital games,
and that he simply has a higher ceiling than Lowry.

Lowry on the bench would mean we could go for a 6-2 bench against the big French sides - just a thought


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