5 Dec, 14:49
The Ireland U19 squad to face Australia Schools at Ravenhill on Saturday 14th December has been announced.
See below for quotes from Ireland coach Eddie O'Sullivan from Tuesday's team announcement press conference at the Killiney Castle Hotel.
- ON HIS TEAM SELECTION -
"As usual the back and second rows were the most difficult areas of discussion. Other than that, it was pretty straightforward so it wasn't the toughest selection meeting we've had.
"But there are quite a few guys on the bench who could have started. In general we've selected on form. Girvan Dempsey has been playing well for Leinster and scored a few tries in the Heineken Cup during the opening rounds.
"Geordan (Murphy) has been playing on the wing for Leicester and Girvan just shaded it on form.
"Leaving out Simon Easterby was the most difficult decision. I'm a fan of his. He's always been close to or in the team and it was a very tough call.
"But if you look at form, Neil (Best) has been playing very well for Ulster. It was a toss of the coin between the two of them."
- ON RONAN O'GARA'S BACK-UP AT NUMBER 10 -
"We took Jeremy Staunton on the summer tour to New Zealand and Australia and sent Paddy (Wallace) to the Churchill Cup. The only anomaly is the situation is Paddy has been playing at number 12 for Ulster, but his main position is out-half. He's played most of his rugby there.
"The positions are not a million miles away from each other anyway so I'm not that concerned that he's playing most of his rugby at 12. If you look at form he's just edge out Jeremy.
"But that's not cut in stone - it's subject to change. We do need to find a second number 10 in the next year, or even sooner than that. They two guys left jockeying for that position at Paddy and Jeremy.
"I'll keep an open mind but Paddy has edged ahead. That's based on form. It's nip and tick between the two of them. We all know that Ronan O'Gara will start in the number 10 jersey."
- ON THE SELECTION OF NEIL BEST OVER SIMON EASTERBY -
"It was probably my most difficult decision. You can see from past selections that I'm a big fan of Simon Easterby. I selected him on the Irish Under-21 team back in 1996 and he's always been someone that's been either near the team or in the team so it was a very tough decision to make. It was a toss of a coin between the two recently.
"Simon captained the team at this time last year, but I think if you look at the form, Neil did very well on the summer tour and he's continued that form this season.
"When it comes down to a very tight call, the guy who's holding the position will probably get the nod, and I think that's the fairest way to do it."
- ON SOUTH AFRICA -
"South Africa will have a very big, physical pack, a team that will want to play in their traditional fashion. They will be hard to contain on the gaine line because of that physicality and they can be expected to have pace out wide.
"They will also pose a danger to us because there are some new players. In some ways, it's better to be playing against guys you know than guys you don't know.
"I don't expect any favourites here - I expect it to be a full metal jacket affair on Saturday."
- ON SCRUMMAGING -
"The scrum has been problematic for a while. When you hit the other guy you have to drive his head down into his spine as far as you can and win that collision. That has precipitated the teams picking very big props, engaging from as far away as possible and then charging in like the Light Brigade - if you can get away with it.
"The scrum now is basically won and lost on the hit. If you get a big hit on the opposition you won't have much problem winning the scrum.
"It's changed the scrum as we know it. I don't think it's a good thing. There was a time when wily, small, smart props would do very well at the highest level because they could scrummage.
"I don't think it's possible for players like that to thrive any more. The scrum is in transition and has been for a while. The scrum wasn't designed to become a collision but that's what it is now.
"If you were a parent you wouldn't encourage your child to be a front row player for that reason. Most mothers would worry if their son arrived home and said he was the new tighthead in the team."
- ON THE IRELAND 'A' TEAM SELECTION -
"If we're sticking to the principal of picking the guys on form, then they only way to judge form is to select the guys who are playing. All the players know that if they fail to make their provincial team, then they are at risk of not being selected.
"There were some very tight calls, and Mick O'Driscoll was a case in point, but you've got to go with the guys who are making it out there on the field. He hasn't done anything wrong and it was a very tight call."
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