EUROPEAN SEMI-FINAL EXITS. Existential crises. Budgetary differences — or, in fact, the lack thereof.
Oh, and throw a Lions squad announcement into the mix for good measure. Quiet week.
Bernard Jackman and Garry Doyle joined Gavan Casey on this week’s Rugby Weekly to sift through it all, with Jackman and Gavan hanging around for added Lions chat in a bonus episode of Rugby Weekly Extra for The42 members after the regularly scheduled Thursday recording.
In the regular pod, the headline exclusion from an Irish point of view — that of Johnny Sexton, with the greatest respect to James Ryan, Garry Ringrose, CJ Stander, Hugo Keenan and perhaps a couple more — wasn’t left hanging for long before being addressed.
Below is a written excerpt from the chat, and you can catch the full episode wherever you get your podcasts — and now, for the first time, on The42 app (click on ‘More’ –> ‘Podcasts’).
“You can absolutely put the exclusions of Ringrose and Ryan down to form — and it’s a loss of form on the back of a couple of injuries that have debilitated them or knocked them out of stride, and sometimes it just takes that little bit longer to rediscover that flow to what you’re doing on a weekly basis,” Gavan said.
“Absolutely,” Garry replied. “Take your first point there, what he did in the Six Nations: he landed 86% of his shots at goal, which is a higher percentage than any other player in the tournament.
“You look at that and you add in the other factors that he brings: his desire to win, his tactical intelligence, his defensive strength which is, let’s face it, much better than most fly-halves in the world.
“So, when you add all of those factors and then you think back to the 2017 Tour which turned on the back of his inclusion for the second Test, you’re basically wondering why he didn’t make it.
“And there are a couple of reasons why he didn’t.
“He’s turning 36 in a couple of months. His durability must have been a concern for Gatland.”
Garry also factored into the equation Sexton’s competition, explaining in detail why this entire squad was “the toughest selection a Lions coach has had since 1989″.
But Jackman laid out his thoughts on Gatland’s big decision at 10 and why, in his opinion, the Kiwi had arrived at the wrong one:
“We’re dead,” Jackman reiterated. “I just think the way South Africa defend, he will run into all kinds of trouble and put others in trouble as well.
“I don’t see the logic in bringing Finn Russell ahead of him. I do feel sorry for Johnny in this situation and I totally think it’s down to worries about his durability and it’s just really unfortunate that he’s had these couple of knocks recently.