Bizzare analysis by Neil Francis on yesterday evening’s Last Word. (iTunes link, starts at 36 minutes in.)His contention was that Ireland will not get out of the group stage. To reach this conclusion, he points to Argentina’s loss to Wales and suggests that Argentina will only improve. However, this logic doesn’t appear to apply to Ireland. We will not improve according to Franno. I really can’t see how he arrives at this point of view.We should beat Argentina. It won’t be easy, but it should not be beyond the capabilities of our full strength squad. (It should be borne in mind that the Irish teams that lost both tests to Argentina in the summer were lacking several first-team players.)The first team lost the Six Nations Championship on points difference to France. We lost the match against France in the Six Nations because of a moment of lapsed concentration let them in for a soft try at the end. The same day we were missing two key players in the form of Brian O’Driscoll and Peter Stringer. We were effectively missing Shane Horgan as well, as he had just come back from injury and it was obvious that he needed at least another week to come right. Had those three players been fully fit, France would not have won, and Ireland would have taken their rightful place as Six Nations Champions and with it, the Grand Slam.Not only should a fully-fit Ireland beat Argentina, but they should also be able to put France away. How better to avenge the defeat in Croke Park than to wipe their eye in the World Cup in their own back yard? Two weeks after losing to France, the full first-choice Irish team slaughtered England in Croke Park. They would have beaten any team that day, I reckon, even the All-Blacks.The key words in the last paragraph are “fully-fit Ireland”. If we are missing two or more of our first choice XV, we will be in trouble. And not just against France. If we were missing, say, David Wallace, Peter Stringer and Brian O’Driscoll for either the French or Argentina game, then Franno’s forecast of doom could well come to pass, and it would be Lens in 1999 all over again.One thing we have learned from the summer tour and the Scottish match last Saturday week is that we have no strength in depth. I will come back to this point in a future post.
Posted by: Gerry | August 21, 2007