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Ian Humphreys: If Ireland don't need Tomás O'Leary they are a very lucky team

The former Ulster player believes his London Irish teammate has been harshly dealt in terms of national selection.

Tomás O'Leary has been capped 24 times by Ireland.
Tomás O'Leary has been capped 24 times by Ireland.
Image: ©INPHO/Billy Stickland

IAN HUMPHREYS HAS called on Ireland to end the international exile of Tomás O’Leary.

Humphreys formed a half-back pairing with O’Leary in the Premiership side’s 29-22 win over Bath at the weekend and believes national coach Declan Kidney have overlooked the scrum-half for too long.

O’Leary, who signed with London Irish from Munster in the summer, made his last start for his country on 20 August last year and was at fault for a crucial try by French out-half Francois Trinh-Duc.

He featured twice, off the bench, in the 2012 Six Nations campaign, after Conor Murray was ruled out of the squad through injury, and did not make the June tour to New Zealand.

There was no place for the Corkman in Kidney’s 33-man training squad that met at Carton House this week.

One of the best

Humphreys, capped seven times with Ireland Wolfhounds, says he is enjoying life with his new club but concedes that he ‘severed all ambitions of playing international rugby by coming here’.

“(The Bath victory) was the first game we’ve played together,” he said of O’Leary, “but we have played together in sevens rugby and for the Irish Wolfhounds. He’s a quality operator and so good at organising players on the field.”

“Tomás is a few years younger than me and I’d be sure that he will be back in the (Ireland) mix again… people must remember that he was in great form and a shoe-in for the Lions Tour (in 2009) before his injury.

He was hard done by in terms of World Cup selection and it has been neglectful of Ireland not to include him more. He is one of the best, if not the best scrum-half in Ireland.

“They must not need him at the moment and, if so, they are a very lucky team,” Humphreys added.

Greater concerns

The Broughshane, Co. Antrim native returned to Northern Ireland last Wednesday to attend the funeral service of former Ulster team-mate and close friend Nevin Spence, his father Noel and brother Graham.

Humphreys described the 22-year-old as ‘a top quality player and he had a lot of potential’.

“(Nevin) is a massive loss to rugby and, more importantly, to his family and his community,” he declared.

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Patrick McCarry

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