Four years ago in the World Cup Eoin Reddan jumped from third choice to first as Eddie O’Sullivan tried to plug holes in his sinking ship. It was hard on Isaac Boss, who had been in second place, but it was a fitting reward for Reddan who had stayed positive in trying circumstances. He’ll need some that resolve again down here in NZ. When on Thursday the team run was taking shape with Conor Murray in the starting role, Reddan realised the danger of what was unfolding: if the Garryowen man continues his scarcely credible run since he took over as first choice in Munster in the last third of the season, then it will extend to starting against Australia in Auckland next weekend. And if Reddan can read the signs then so can Boss, who is looking at his second tournament as an extra.
That all constitutes good news in so far as it involves three fit men fighting over the right to start. The situation at full back and open side is less positive.
Declan Kidney said at the press briefing here this morning that Rob Kearney may well be ok for the Aussies.
“The nature of Rob’s injury sees him up and doing training, but I want him to get up to full speed,” he said. “He has shown he can just come in, like starting against Scotland (in August) after being out for months. The fact he is not named here doesn’t rule him out for next week by any means.”
If Kearney was fit he’d be starting. He isn’t. In fact it’s four weeks now since he made his comeback, against France, and that in turn was his comeback since the previous November. Kidney had told Geordan Murphy that he wasn’t making the cut when the coach was picking his 30 man squad in the first place. It’s a fair distance from that point to having to start him now.
Similarly he had delivered bad news to Shane Jennings only to have to revise it when David Wallace wrecked his knee. Does Kidney want to pick Jennings? No. And if Sean O’Brien was fit then he’d be starting at seven, even though it’s the back row position in which he is least effective.
So Conor Murray is a good news story and it’s what your daily papers will lead with this morning. This squad, who are upbeat and very positive after the preparation down in Queenstown, need good news stories almost as much as they need good luck. And it’s not against Eddie’s Eagles they need it, rather against the Wallabies who have been trading in an altogether tougher market lately, and making a profit.
Off we go then.