Alan Quinlan Reckons James Ryan & Tadhg Beirne Have One Major Flaw

Enforcers.

Alan Quinlan has weighed in on Ireland’s second-row debate ahead of the Rugby World Cup as Joe Schmidt gets set to pick just four men for the engine room in his 31-man squad for Japan.

The Ireland boss is spoilt for choice in the second-row with James Ryan, Tadhg Beirne, Iain Henderson, Devin Toner, Jean Kleyn, Ultan Dillane and Quinn Roux all battling for selection.

The last time Ireland played was a defeat to Wales in the Six Nations, with James Ryan and Tadhg Beirne picked as the first-choice pairing. And while Quinlan thinks both are “brilliant” second-rows – neither of them are old school “enforcers” as far as he’s concerned.

“I just thought when we went to Wales James Ryan and Tadhg Beirne, as brilliant as both of them are, they’re not enforcers. I’ve always said this about second rows, ideally you want to have one dogged, physical, aggressive guy,” Quinlan told Off The Ball

“Henderson is still very much a footballer who travels around a lot and wants the ball in his hands. I’m a bit old-school about the second rows in that you have the best combination.

“With Donncha O’Callaghan and Paul O’Connell, Donncha was that bruiser that hit ruck after ruck. Bakkies Botha was the same, just that real steel who busts up the middle of a maul who’s just aggressive and makes those hard carries,” 

With that Quinlan reckons Connacht’s Quinn Roux or the uncapped Jean Kleyn could very well travel ahead of someone like Beirne or Henderson in that “enforcer” role.

“Do you know why I’m talking about [Jean] Kleyn? Really because you could end up with South Africa and their physicality.” Quinlan added

“Just part of me is thinking you could do with one big bruiser in there that you just play for the first 50 minutes, like a Quinn Roux-type scenario,”