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'There is something we're missing because he's too good a player'

Sean Cronin’s omission was one of the main talking points up for his discussion on this week’s The42 Rugby Weekly.

THERE IS A lack of consistency in Ireland’s rationale for dropping Sean Cronin in order to build squad depth in specialist positions, given we have not seen the likes of John Cooney given extended game-time during this year’s Six Nations.

That’s the view of former Leinster and Connacht out-half Andy Dunne, who was discussing Cronin’s omission from Joe Schmidt’s Ireland squad for France on this week’s The42 Rugby Weekly. 

Sean Cronin Cronin finds himself out in the cold. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Leinster hooker Cronin appears to have paid a heavy price for Ireland’s lineout malfunctions against Italy last time out, with Ulster’s Rob Herring preferred to him in the 37-man panel for the visit of France to the Aviva Stadium this Sunday [KO 3pm, Virgin Media 1].

Ireland forwards coach Simon Easterby yesterday insisted the decision to leave Cronin out of the squad a week after his first Six Nations start was not performance-related, rather a desire to build depth at hooker ahead of the World Cup.

But appearing alongside Murray Kinsella and Ryan Bailey on this week’s The42 Rugby Weekly, Dunne does not buy that explanation and believes there is something more to the selection call.

“I think there’s something else in it, I do,” Dunne said. “He’s too good a player for me to only have had four starts in total. He’s very impactful and in almost all his appearances off the bench, he makes some kind of difference which is a very difficult thing to do.

“It obviously pigeonholes him in a way he would have never wanted in that he’s gained recognition for bringing that impact off the bench.

“For whatever reason, he’s deemed surplus to requirement in a squad of 37. To me, I can’t quite fathom it based on his qualities on the field.

“There’s a lack of consistency in that rationale because they’re not doing it elsewhere. Again, there is something we’re missing. People say ‘there must be something we’re missing’, well there is because he’s too good a player, he’s too impactful and he didn’t have all that bad a game against Italy and he’s the one that gets chopped in a 37-man squad.”


Murray Kinsella added: “It feels like this has happened to Sean Cronin before, it feels like he is often the one who misses out and who hasn’t quite earned the trust of the coaching team.

“He has only made four starts since Joe Schmidt took over in 2013, obviously has played a lot of games off the bench when he’s really impactful.

Ireland’s Sean Cronin Cronin in action against Italy in Rome. Source: Inpho/Billy Stickland

“In fairness to Rob Herring, which has probably been the missed part of this story, he has been good and did really well during the tour of Australia last summer. But you have to feel for Sean Cronin, it’s really tough, and he’ll be wondering ‘what have I done to deserve this?’”

Easterby did not rule Cronin out of contention for a return to the Ireland squad for the final Six Nations game against Wales, while remaining firm in his line that the 32-year-old — capped 68 times — does not affect his chances of being selected for the World Cup.

But with Leinster on a two-week break from Pro14 action, it will be a difficult couple of days for Cronin. 

“He has to draw on his experience, his resilience,” Dunne added.

I’ll suspect he’ll have a bit of anger in him and he’ll probably go hard at it in a few sessions early next week with Leinster as well.

“It’s not something that’s new for him, unfortunately. He’s probably going to feel a bit like an outsider and a fall guy and maybe he can use that as a fuel to keep banging on the door.

“I don’t think it directly relates to exclusion in Japan, so hopefully, he can use it in a positive way even if he currently dislikes the coaching staff quite a lot — which I suspect he does.”

Also on this week’s show, Murray and Andy look ahead to Sunday’s showdown in Dublin, we have a feature interview with Paddy Butler of Pau and look further into World Rugby’s proposed Nations Championship.

Source: The42 Rugby Weekly/SoundCloud

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Ryan Bailey

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