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'We've got lads who can do both and I just don't think Stander is one of them'

Andy Dunne wants to see Ireland look for more from their back row forwards.

WHILE THE NEW regime sees Peter O’Mahony drop out of Ireland’s starting XV for Saturday’s Six Nations opener against Scotland, there remains debate around Andy Farrell’s back row.

CJ Stander shifts into the number six shirt as debutant Caelan Doris comes into the team at number eight but there are some supporters who remain unconvinced that the Munster man should be in the team at all.

cj-stander Stander makes a carry against the All Blacks at the World Cup. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

On The42 members‘ WhatsApp rugby thread, debate has reignited around Stander keeping his place in the Ireland XV with Leinster’s Rhys Ruddock excluded from the Six Nations squad altogether.

Speaking on today’s episode of The42 Rugby Weekly, Andy Dunne expressed his belief that Ireland should be looking for a more complete player than Stander.

While Andy praised Stander’s relentless work-rate, he outlined his belief that Ireland should be demanding more than just ball-carrying from their back row forwards when host Gavan Casey asked him for his view on the selection of Stander at blindside flanker.

“I don’t agree with it,” said Andy. “I think CJ is a warrior-like player, he does stuff that lots of players don’t want to do. The dangerous area we can slip into is that you look at a player like Stander and I’ve certainly criticised him for not making enough yardage, running into a brick wall.

“In his defence, he has been asked to do that a lot and he’s stepped up and done it. There’s not a whole lot else he can do with five guys in front of him, so if he’s being asked to generate momentum by running into a brick wall, it’s almost cruelty but he keeps stepping up to do it.

“The problem is more with the way we’ve played and why we’re happy to go with fellas who will do that. I would rather see an opening-up of width on the field, getting players away from traffic, and in those situations, we have got other options.

“We’ve got link players, players who are a bit faster across the ground, although Stander is pretty fast but doesn’t get a chance to get a gallop up. 

“I don’t think he’s that comfortable in open spaces with ball-in-hand to be a distributor, to pass out of the tackle. It’s not his strength. His strength is doing the hard yards and the problem with a lot of forward packs as a unit is that they require a couple of people in the unit to do that while the fast-track ponies get all the credit. You have to have a balance of the two.

“I think that’s acceptable for a period of time but we’ve really consistently used that ploy now and at international level there’s enough personnel across the four provinces to get a player who can be a fast-track pony, a link player, offload, and do the hard yards. We don’t need to categorise it and pick a player to do one or the other. We’ve got lads across the provinces who can do both and I just don’t think Stander is one of them.

max-deegan-celebrates-scoring-a-try-with-rhys-ruddock Max Deegan has impressed for Leinster this season. Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

“He can do the heroic, thankless, hard-yards stuff but I don’t think he can cross over and do both. I think we should expect more at international level and I think we should expect more of how we play as a team anyway and to accept that we don’t just need guys who can do the hard yards. We need guys who can do both and we need to embrace that.

“The up-and-coming Max Deegan, Caelan Doris, Jack O’Donoghue, then you look at Jack Conan and Dan Leavy – who will be back in four to five months, which is great to hear – but you’re talking about a new generation of back rows who can do both in my mind and that’s where I think we need to go.

“In that sense, I don’t agree with the Stander selection, more for what it represents. He’s still going to go out and earn his stripes on Saturday and do a really thankless job and be effective in terms of trying to generate momentum. 

“So I don’t want to come down too heavy on him but I just think we have players who can do both.”

The big Six Nations preview with Andy Dunne, Murray Kinsella and Gavan Casey


Source: The42 Rugby Weekly/SoundCloud

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