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'Tadhg Beirne has cemented his spot... he's been a real bonus for Ireland'

Will Connors has excelled at openside over the last two weekends.

Connors and Beirne have shone for Ireland.
Connors and Beirne have shone for Ireland.

Updated Mar 17th 2021, 8:03 PM

WILL CONNORS WAS on the bench for Ireland’s first two games of this Six Nations, but now it’s hard to imagine Andy Farrell’s team going into their meeting with England on Saturday without the Kildare man in their number seven shirt. 

Meanwhile, Tadhg Beirne has used this championship to make himself a nailed-on starter. The Munster man has excelled in the second row and at blindside flanker, delivering a string of dominant performances for Farrell’s side.

The fact that Beirne and Connors, who previously weren’t obvious first-choice players with Ireland, have been so impressive is one of the major positives of this Six Nations, as Eoin Toolan and Murray Kinsella discussed on today’s edition of The42 Rugby Weekly Extra – an analysis podcast available to members of The42 every Monday.

Openside flanker Connors demonstrated his qualities again in last weekend’s win over Scotland.

“Connors, from a defensive perspective, had that mouthwatering clash with Hamish Watson,” said Eoin. “Some of the tackles… Jamie Heaslip on commentary said he was shuddering from up in the commentary box.

“Connors has got to be pound for pound the best chop tackler in the Six Nations, along with Tom Curry for England.

“That try-saving tackle on Duhan van der Merwe was one of those snapshots that epitomised the Irish effort.”

Beirne, meanwhile, was named man of the match for his performance at blindside flanker against the Scots, having already shone in Ireland’s clashes with Wales, France, and Italy.

It is expected that Beirne will return to the second row this weekend against England after James Ryan was ruled out, with Peter O’Mahony or Jack Conan likely to come into the back row.

“Beirne has cemented his spot in the international team with his all-round game,” said Eoin. “To have James Ryan, Tadhg Beirne, and Iain Henderson in the defensive lineout has been an absolute luxury for Ireland and they have got great pay out of it. 

“Then Beirne’s work-rate around the pitch with the defensive breakdown and his ball-carrying ability for the try. He’s been a real bonus for Ireland, someone who might not have been expected to start but is really adding to that Irish pack.”

Eoin highlighted the excellent individual form of several other Ireland players in recent games, even as Farrell’s team struggles for consistency in a collective season.

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Lock Iain Henderson is playing some of his best rugby, while inside centre Robbie Henshaw was superb once again in Edinburgh last weekend. 

“Henshaw has done his Lions ambitions no harm at all,” said Eoin. “Warren Gatland was in the stand and he was brilliant. He’s super aggressive and brings 100% effort all the time. Those high ball kick chases, he shows a huge effort and tenacity with everything.”

This week’s edition of The42 Rugby Weekly Extra also involved the lads discussing James Lowe’s tough afternoon in Murrayfield, why Ireland’s attack struggled to break down the Scottish defence, and what needs to improve for the clash with England.

There was also analysis of England’s win over France in a thrilling game at Twickenham.

You can sign up as a member of The42 here in order to listen to the extra rugby podcasts and a wide range of other shows on sportswriting, football, GAA, and coaching, as well as getting weekly newsletters and access to our lively member-only Whatsapp groups.

About the author:

Murray Kinsella

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