The Deluded Leinster View On Peter O’Mahony & CJ Stander With Ireland Needs To Stop

Wake up.

Donnacha Ryan won’t be missed by Ireland. We’ve got plenty of other players to come in. Simon Zebo won’t be missed by Ireland. We’re well stocked in the back three. Munster will miss Peter O’Mahony and CJ Stander. Ireland won’t.

Believe it or not I’ve come across these statements on a number of occasions from deluded fans and pundits, and quite frankly, I’m beginning to get sick and tired of it. This feeling that players outside of Leinster are easily replaced within the Irish set-up is a steaming pile of biased, elitist, ignorant nonsense that is going to destroy Irish Rugby.

It’s unfair to tar everyone in Leinster with the same brush, but unfortunately it’s getting to stage where the deluded have overtaken the realists. And this goes for fans as well as pundits, journalists etc. And of course, the IRFU.

Leinster are the be all and end all of Irish Rugby as far as they are concerned, but when any of us based outside the capital moan, we’re told we’re talking complete nonsense.

Face it, anything that comes out of Dublin will always be favoured above the rest of the country. It’s the capital after all. It’s where our government offices are, it’s where the media is based, it’s where the IRFU are based, hell even World Rugby are in Dublin.

This has always been the case, and will continue to do so, and for good reason most of the time to be fair. But when it starts to have a serious knock on effect like it is beginning to have with Munster, something needs to be done.

The IRFU didn’t back Donnacha Ryan, either did the media, or the Leinster fans. The same thing happened with Simon Zebo (albeit to a lesser extent) and now it’s beginning to happen to Peter O’Mahony and CJ Stander.

These players are and were undervalued both contract wise by the IRFU and ability and influence wise by Leinster-based fans, pundits and journalists. Do you really believe Donnacha Ryan and Simon Zebo wouldn’t have started in November if they were available for selection? Do you really think Jamie Heaslip, Rhys Ruddock or Jack Conan etc. are better than the Lions duo of O’Mahony or Stander right now? Come on. Be truthful to yourself.

If Ireland want to compete at the highest level they need their best players, and this nonsense that O’Mahony or Stander will not be missed and can be simply replaced by one of Leinster’s many back-rows is laughable.

Peter O’Mahony is a once in a generation player. A leader, a workhorse, an inspiration. Not to mention one of the best lineout jumpers in the world. As for CJ Stander, he’s probably been one of the most consistent and fastest rising talents in world rugby over the last two seasons. He’s near indestructible, playing more minutes than any Irish player last season, with a work rate that begs belief at times.

Donnacha Ryan is denied an IRFU contract due to his age yet Heaslip and Toner are handed deals until 2020. There’s no money to give Zebo an IRFU contract yet Leinster have two looseheads for example (Healy and McGrath) on central deals, while Rob Kearney also signed a three-year central deal back in 2015. The earth, moon and the stars were also moved to bring Jonny Sexton back from France. Don’t get us started on the likes of James Lowe and Scott Fardy being brought in. That’s an article in itself.

Now whether you agree with these deals or not, and we’re not saying we disagree with all of them, the question remains, is the same consideration and backing given to the other provinces? The answer is a resounding no. Whether you agree with that or not is tough. It’s a fact.

The worst part is the other provinces actually need that little bit of extra help due to the population and money that’s in Leinster, when what’s happening is quite the opposite.

This may seem like I’m being completely anti-Leinster, but that is not the case. I’ve always been a huge fan of Leinster rugby, its players, its culture and its fans. But there’s a horrible side to it that comes out at times, and its mainly because of the IRFU and the media, and the influence they carry.

As a Munster fan you might have seen me tear into them, their fans and the players during the dark period before Erasmus arrived, so everyone is open to criticism. It’s not bias, just honest opinion.

At the end of the day, Munster fans love Leinster fans. Leinster fans love Munster fans. They both love Connacht fans and Ulster fans. We’re all in this together. When the Irish Rugby team take the field it’s the only time you will ever see a united Ireland. It’s magical. When our players are disrespected by rival province’s fans, we’re not angry, we’re disappointed. We expect more from our Irish Rugby family. We want all the provinces to be competing. That’s what makes the rivalries so entertaining. We’ll also cheer them on in every game they play, bar only when our own province is playing them.

Get behind O’Mahony. Get behind Stander. The IRFU need Munster competing at the highest level. Leinster need Munster competing at the highest level. The media need Munster competing at the highest level.

But most importantly, Ireland needs Peter O’Mahony. Ireland needs CJ Stander. Suck it up and admit it. We all benefit.

Put their correct value on them. In both senses of the term.

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