'You've got to give Gibson-Park that leeway to play how he feels the momentum'

The Leinster man has become a key player for Ireland under Andy Farrell.

Gibson-Park has become Ireland's first-choice scrum-half.
Gibson-Park has become Ireland's first-choice scrum-half.

JAMISON GIBSON-PARK has been one of the success stories of Andy Farrell’s Ireland team.

The Leinster scrum-half has become a key man under Farrell, forcing his way into the green number nine shirt almost before he had won the battle with Luke McGrath for the blue number nine shirt.

Gibson-Park’s creative skills have been important to the Ireland attack over the last two years and all aspects of his game have improved, but he would surely love to replay a few moments from last weekend’s defeat to the All Blacks.

As discussed by Eoin Toolan and Murray Kinsella today on The42 Rugby Weekly Extra podcast for members of The42Farrell seems certain to keep backing Gibson-Park to do what he has been doing for Ireland despite those mistakes in the first Test.

The 30-year-old now has 18 caps to his name and has beaten off the competition of Conor Murray to be Ireland’s first-choice, while Craig Casey has also had to be patient in the scrum-half pecking order.

Eoin and Murray both believe that Gibson-Park remains the front runner at scrum-half for Ireland.

Murray: “Gibson-Park was one of those who made big errors in the game but he has been a really important player for this Ireland team.

“You’ve got to find a balance in helping him to review errors without taking away from his creative confidence. It’s an interesting challenge for coaches with a guy like him who is maybe naturally shy and has had to work on that side of his game.”

jonathan-sexton-jamison-gibson-park-and-bundee-aki-during-the-training Ireland at training ahead of the second Test.

Eoin: “It’s difficult for him. He had a really poor five minutes. You can’t take away his instinct and his feel for the game, and how he feels momentum is on the pitch.

“That quick-tap penalty when Ireland win a penalty just inside New Zealand’s half, they go two phases and Furlong gets absolutely smoked by the New Zealand tighthead prop Tu’ungafasi. That turnover shifts momentum back to New Zealand.

“Then there’s a poor box kick on exit from Gibson-Park that barely goes 10 metres and moments later, there’s the run from the lineout exit that leads to a New Zealand try. There’s just that five-minute period where everything he touched seemed to go against him.

“But when he’s on form and in sync with the rhythm of the game, he brings an added dimension to the Ireland attack that is unrivaled in the country at the moment.

“You’ve got to stick with that template. If that’s how you’re setting out your stall to play the game, I think you’ve got to give Gibson-Park that leeway to play how he feels the momentum of the game is.

“I would be surprised if he was dropped and to me, it’s puzzling that Murray is on the bench because I just don’t feel he can play in that same vein when he does come onto the pitch. It’s a stark contract in attacking qualities between two number nines that does have a significant influence on how Ireland can play.”

Murray: “I agree on Gibson-Park. You’ve pointed out in the past that this approach Ireland have now will also include errors sometimes and that’s almost part of the philosophy the coaches have accepted and embraced, freed the players up from some of the fear of that.

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“It will be interesting to see how he bounces back and I think you keep going the way you’ve been going with that style of play.

jamison-gibson-park-and-referee-karl-dickson Gibson-Park is an instinctive player.

“Gibson-Park was one of those who probably epitomised Ireland’s collective performance in this game – did loads of really good things in this game, loads of really nice individual moments but the mistakes were really costly.” 

Elsewhere on today’s edition of The42 Rugby Weekly Extra, Eoin and Murray discussed why there is some hope for Ireland in the second Test in Dunedin this weekend.

The lads also dug into the Wallabies’ win over England, whose head coach Eddie Jones continues to come under pressure. They also discussed the Springboks’ last-gasp victory over Wales and the promising signs from the Pacific Nations Cup.

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

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