Crowley has to start as Ireland’s World Cup hopes far too dependent on Sexton


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Over the past two weeks I have spoken about what a good place Irish rugby is in. They are ranked the best team in the world, they have beaten some of the best teams over the past year or two and confidence in both the players and coaching staff seem at an all time high.

last weekends performance against Fiji is a stark reminder of previous Irish teams and their failures.


The performance against Fiji just wasn’t very good. It was flat and cumbersome. The atmosphere in the stadium was flat and it seemed to impact the players. They still won pretty easily in the end, but Irish fans will have had a sense of Déjà vu watching the game.

This type of performance is not completely unusual to Irish fans. We tend to see these types of performances when Johnny Sexton doesn’t play.

It is a problem that Ireland have created themselves in a lot of ways. Ireland have become so dependent on their talisman at ten that when he isn’t playing, everything seems to fall apart. Last weekend’s win was against a decent side but by no means a top tier team in Fiji. Imagine a performance like that against France or New Zealand. It would be a massacre.

Now I know that Ireland were missing other big names, but they still should have had plenty to blow Fiji out of the water. France for example, who beat South Africa on Saturday in a thriller. lost Danty after eleven minutes, they lost Baille after thirty-one minutes, Dupont got sent off after forty-seven minutes and played Sekou Macalou, who is a flanker, on the wing! France have built outrageous depth in their squad and that has not come by chance. They give their youth a chance to flourish. They build it and now are sewing their rewards from it.

This weekend coming Ireland host Australia. Early reports show that Johnny might not be able to play.

Andy Farrell has called up Ross Byrne to join the squad so that doesn’t indicate huge confidence in Johnny’s fitness. So, you could end up with your two options at ten being Ross Byrne and Jack Crowley. Ross definitely more experienced but by no means a veteran and Jack Crowley still very much the new kid on the block. This presents a fantastic opportunity to give these players reps with what you would expect to be a full-strength team around them.

Personally, I would be starting Crowley purely because we still don’t know what we have with him.

Ross Byrne is a fine player and underrated in my opinion, but we know who he is and what he can do. It is risky but I believe it to be a risk Ireland should take.


This weekends game is a big opportunity for Ireland to put last week’s performance behind them and show that even without Johnny Sexton at ten, that they can beat a big team and put in a big performance. There is always a chance that come the World Cup, Johnny won’t be available for every game or even the latter stages and then it’s too late, its piss or get off the pot time and games like this weekend against Australia are an ideal time to get potty trained.

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