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Bryan Keane/INPHO Gavin Coombes carries for Ireland A.
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'Ireland don't seem to have been impressed with what he has offered'
Gavin Coombes was left out of the Ireland squad this week and has a point to prove for Munster.

THE CALLS FOR Gavin Coombes to be given more opportunities with Ireland have been loud over the last couple of seasons but now the Munster number eight finds himself outside of the national team squad altogether.

The 24-year-old was released from Andy Farrell’s squad this week ahead of the Fiji game on Saturday and will instead start at number eight for his province against South Africa A in Cork tomorrow night.

It’s a development that was discussed on today’s episode of The42 Rugby Weekly Extra – a podcast available to members of The42 every Monday and Wednesdayby Murray Kinsella and former Ireland performance analyst Eoin Toolan.

Coombes got a chance for Ireland A last Friday night but it was a tough outing for him and the Irish side as they were on the wrong end of a battering from an excellent All Blacks XV team.

With Leinster back rows Max Deegan and Scott Penny promoted into the main Ireland squad this week, Coombes will now have to fight his way back into the mix by starring for Munster. 

And while the twice-capped Munster man has had to deal with disappointment at being left out, it’s obviously good news for the Leinster duo, as highlighted on today’s pod.

Toolan: “It’s a hotly-contested area. We always talk about the depth in those positions. I thought Deegan did really well on the Emerging Ireland tour, played a leadership role there, and he has talked about getting less involvements on the edge and more into the middle of the field, more back-to-back efforts. That’s probably been an indication of his progression this season. It’s an opportunity for him.

“I do like the look of Scott Penny, he’s a really abrasive character and he gets his chance as well. It points to the competitiveness in the squad. I can’t comment on Coombes’ performance last week but he has generally been a strong performer for Munster and on the New Zealand tour over the summer, I thought he stepped up in those games as well.”

Kinsella: “The A game didn’t go well for Coombes and I think he would probably admit that himself. He was one of many players who didn’t perform at the level they’re capable of. There were a few jarring moments for him. There was a carry off the base of a scrum in the Kiwis’ 22 where he gets savaged by Luke Jacobson and I know Jacobson is a strong player but that’s a position where you need your number eight to at least get parity.

“Otherwise, the game slightly passed him by. But I do think it would be harsh to judge players on just one game and clearly Ireland haven’t done that.

“There are several others who played in that game and are going to feature this weekend against Fiji, but with Gavin Coombes they don’t seem to have been thoroughly impressed with what he has offered when he’s been in Ireland camp.

max-deegan Ben Brady / INPHO Max Deegan is now in the main Ireland squad. Ben Brady / INPHO / INPHO

“That’s a massive part of it, what we don’t see behind the scenes – how they train, how they prepare, how they are in meetings, being on time for everything. All those little things are a factor in it.

“I would hope there is no writing off of Coombes and I would be shocked if he doesn’t go and have a massive game now against South Africa A for Munster. That game will just suit him, especially with this motivation ringing in his ears, I suppose.

“But I’m sure he has taken bits where he thinks he needs to be better. You look at Caelan Doris, who is the standard-setter now. They’re the same age and look how far Caelan Doris is ahead, how he has rounded out his game, how he’s performing in the biggest games and taking every chance he gets. They’re sometimes the harsh realities of rugby.

“I don’t think the Ireland staff will write him off or anything like that, but definitely the Ireland A game didn’t go well for him.”

Toolan: “The other way to look at it is that Jack Conan is potentially going to get game time at eight this week with Caelan Doris potentially on the bench.

“Is Coombes better playing 80 minutes against the South Africans in what is going to be a pretty emotional affair down in Páirc Uí Chaoimh? There’s a lot of things that go into it and potentially that’s more the factor. They’d like to see Coombes get the 80 minutes and maybe Max Deegan is brought in to be a bit of cannon fodder at training.

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“There’s a lot of things that go into selection and it might not just be a reflection on his most recent game.”

Kinsella: “I think he would rather be in an Ireland jersey, though, all the same. That’s where you want to be. He has spoken about his ambitions at that level.

“So fingers crossed it goes well for him in the Munster game. As I said, I’d be shocked if he’s not even potentially man of the match there, you can see him rumbling over for a few scores.”


Elsewhere on the pod, the lads discussed Jack Crowley’s rise towards a debut this weekend against Fiji, as well as discussing how the Wallabies are shaping up for their visit to Dublin in two weekends’ time.

To get access to The42 Rugby Weekly Extra, which comes out every Monday with Gavan Casey, Bernard Jackman, and Murray Kinsella, as well as every Wednesday with Eoin Toolan, become a member of The42 at

Get instant updates on your province on The42 app. With Laya Healthcare, official health and wellbeing partner to Leinster, Munster and Connacht Rugby.

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