George Hook Has Made Some Very Valid Points Ahead Of Ireland’s Game Against Italy


George Hook has come under criticism many times in the past but you have to admire his honesty.

The former RTE pundit has been outspoken for many years when it comes to the provinces and national side. Hook has come out today and heavily criticised Schmidt’s selection for the Italy game and it’s hard to argue his points.

McCloskey does not even make the match-day 23. Maybe Joe Schmidt missed the module on building player confidence during his coaching courses? Fergus McFadden, who would not make the Leinster starting team if everyone in the province was fit, is recalled to the bench.

And Ultan Dillane, after a monstrous performance off the bench at Twickenham, is once again consigned to a supporting role among the replacements.

This is Italy, at home. Spare me the nonsense about the importance of finishing mid-table and the monetary value of a win to the suits in the IRFU accounting office. Dillane deserves to start. So does McCloskey. Why not give Kieran Marmion a go? And with those three players in the starting XV, Ireland would still beat Italy comfortably.

Hook has made some very accurate points with most of the country in agreement that Jared Payne should have started at fullback with McCloskey in the centre. Hook finishes his article with some choice words that when you think about it, are spot on.

Regardless, Ireland will still win and, who knows, they might even score a few tries. But the same stagnant style continues to dominate; nothing has really changed since the World Cup.

More worryingly, this tournament, just as it was up until the final round last year, when a freakish set of circumstances combined to save it from itself, remains dull. Not even a 50-point winning margin against the Italians will change that. []

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