Friday 11 May 2007

Magner's league dream team

As lifted from the rugby Ireland homepage

15 - Ben Blair (Cardiff Blues)
14 - Denis Hickie (Leinster)*
13 - Regan King (Llanelli Scarlets)
12 - Gordon D'Arcy (Leinster)*
11 - Shane Williams (Ospreys)
10 - Felipe Contepomi (Leinster)
9 - Mike Phillips (Cardiff Blues)

1 - Iestyn Thomas (Llanelli Scarlets)
2 - Matthew Rees (Llanelli Scarlets)
3 - Euan Murray (Glasgow Warriors)
4 - Justin Harrison (Ulster)
5 - Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys)
6 - Simon Easterby (Llanelli Scarlets)*
7 - Colin Charvis (Newport Gwent Dragons)
8 - Jamie Heaslip (Leinster)*

Those players underlined play for one of the Irish provinces, note: 'surprising' lack of any Connacht men in that fifteen. Players marked with an asterix are Irish nationals.

Only four players (Harrison, Conto, Blair and King) from outside of Scotland, Wales and Ireland on that team too which is a pretty good indication of the strength of local rugby in the home nations these days. Well ok the strength in depth of the celtic nations, England's domestic league is full of foreigners there for the money... hmm actually its just an indication of the rise of Wales and Ireland to be honest, a single Scottish player in that mix.

I think the backline is pretty much spot on, I've always been a fan of Mike Philips but he has had a huge season for Cardiff so my bias in this case is justified. Contepomi was key for Leinster, especially when the province lost all their players to international duty. D'Arcy was a powerhouse in attack and solid as a rock in defence, his work rate and ability to turn over ball is incredible. Kiwi King was mercurial at outside centre for Llanelli, playing a key role in attack for the Scarletts finding space where there never seemed to be any. Williams and Hickie are two of the best finishers in the game and Blair was a revelation this year in Cardiff.

The pack on the other hand... I have a problem with. Firstly the two props... Iestyn Thomas is ok but I refuse to accept that there was no better prop out there to fill out the other side of the scrum than a Scot. That is scrummaging blasphemy my friends. I'm willing to bet I'm a better scrummager than Euan Murray. And whilst I do admire Rees and the way he plays I'd have to give the number 2 jersey to Bernard Jackman, the Leinster hooker who has been in fine rampaging form all year and is in my opinion, long overdue an Ireland call up. Also I disagree with those second row choices purely cos I don't care for either of those players and the Colin Charvis choice at 7 is ridiculous, he's sooooooo old

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