Joe Schmidt has been announced as Ireland coach, hardly a surprise, what will he bring to the job?
It's great to have the appointment confirmed and hopefully Schmidt can bring some of the things that have been very noticeably missing from Irish play, one example being quick ball off the top of the lineout. Exciting back play needs quick, secure ball and that's a decent place to start.
Hardly a surprise, as you say, but a welcome appointment. Schmidt will hopefully have the same impact at Ireland that he had when he joined Leinster and with Ireland's backline heavily populated with Leinster players the hope is he can continue to get the best out of those players and work similar magic on the likes of Paddy Jackson, Luke Marshall and Simon Zebo. It's the dawn of what could be an exciting new era.
What do people think are the biggest differences are between the start of the Schmidt era and the beginning of Kidney's?
The make-up of his backroom staff is the next interesting stage. Keeping Les Kiss but returning him to purely defensive duties would be good although will Schmidt want him given he was a rival for the job, and will Kiss want to take it given he was considered not up to the head coach's role? But overall, Schmidt's appointment through to the next World Cup and beyond has to be a positive.
I think first and foremost he will bring a new set of ideas from a technical and tactical point of view. Also with the new crop of young players coming through, particularly in the backline, he will have an opportunity to stamp his own ideals on the game e.g. when he first came to Leinster he wanted them to be the best passing team in Europe and that has driven their general play.
Kidney inherited a proven team at the peak of its powers and then had to manage its transition from an ageing one to the next generation. Schmidt gets the opportunity to complete the foundations laid by Kidney and he has a lot of exciting young players to work with.
It will be interesting to see who fills his backroom team positions as Simon says. Who are the key men he can bring in?
Does anyone see any negatives to this appointment? Taking Mike's point about putting your stamp on a team, how much more difficult is that to do at Test level with players used to different styles of play with their clubs/provinces?
Re. backroom team, Anthony Foley's probably a must for a number of different reasons. After that it will be very interesting.
I agree with what Simon is saying. Declan has alot of good work done and has brought the Irish team forward. I think we need to be aware of the amount of injuries Declan and his staff had to contend with this season.
Will this mean a different type of style for Ireland now? Kidney was trying to make their game more expansive until all the injuries but can Schmidt take it on to a new level given he won't see these players week-in and week-out?
The one possible negative is simply the amount of expectancy that will be there in the eyes of the public. Schmidt is Leinster's most successful coach who made Leinster into one of the most attractive and potent forces in club rugby but, as has been mentioned, shaping an international side just isn't as easy.
One positive might be an openness to not have a automatic "first choice" at positions; an example of that has been Schmidt's use of Boss or Reddan at 9 depending on the fixture.
I think at this level players can adapt quickly and their skill sets are at a high level due to the good work being done within the provinces. The main factor really will have to be a clear and direct type of gameplan and it suits the profile of his team. I would like to see some continuity with the likes of Anthony Foley continuing in his role as Defence Coach.
What about the weekend lads. Leinster were a tour de force again?
It was a joy to watch, tempered only by the fans' knowledge that this would be one of the last few times to see Sexton and Nacewa in action. It was Leinster at their rampant best while at the same time noting that some of the Biarritz midfield defence was as soft as cheese. Still, it was wonderful to see players taking the opportunity to try things, like McFadden's double chip in the second half, and was a fitting warm-up for Munster's Heineken semi-final later in the day.
What about Munster's performance later that day?
Ya I agree. Their offloading game, lines of running and their technical ability at the breakdown to generate quick ball was exceptional which when you have a backline like Leinster is very hard to contain. Leinster seemed to be really enjoying themselves and when they are in that form they are very impressive.
Paul O'Connell was back to his best at the lineout , good enough to earn a Lions captaincy?
Munster were excellent on Saturday in Montpellier. All the pressure was on Clermont and they did look tight and nervous but as semi-finals go, it was a cracker of a match and Munster more than played their part. The right team won, I think, but this was a very encouraging performance from a team that will only get better.
Who would you say are the Irish certs for the Lions?
The one down side was Nigel Owens, who seemed to be reffing as if to make amends for missing O'Connell's kick to Dave Kearney's head a fortnight earlier. Nothing went Munster's way on Saturday including that final pass from O'Connell he judged was forward. With the overlap Munster had that could have been game over.
I thought Munster's performance was very workmanlike considering the first half where Clermont were strong in the set piece and Munster got turned over on a couple of occasions. But Munster being Munster showed great willingness and RoG's tactical kicking was keeping Munster on the front foot and pressurising Clermont. But to be fair on the day the better team won
O'Connell, Healy, Best, O'Brien, Murray, Sexton, O'Driscoll, Bowe, Zebo, Kearney would be my certs for the Lions when Gatland names his squad tomorrow
Munster were fantastic - to finish just six back of Clermont with, as Simon said, a chance to win at the end was remarkable. They had a couple of huge turnovers close to their own line in the first half and did enough to stay in touch. Clermont visibly tightened in the second half but they should be good enough to break Toulon in the final.
Irish Lions certs: O'Connell, O'Driscoll, O'Brien, Healy, Heaslip, Sexton with Bowe also if Gatland is convinced he's fully repaired. After that it's a bit murky.
The back row has to be the most competitive area for Lions places. I'm not even sure Chris Robshaw is a certainty and he was one game away from leading England a Grand Slam. Could be an all-Welsh back row in the first Test, Warburton, Tipuric and Faletau.
Ok folks we'll call it a day. Thanks for your inputs and we'll leave it with a poll
The Irish Lions certs for me would be: Cian Healy Paul O'Connell, Sean O'Brien, Johnathan Sexton, Brian O'Driscoll, Simon Zebo, and Rob Kearney. I would also bring Peter O'Mahony and Conor Murray on the plane