The battle of the nines for the British and Irish Lions is always an interesting one and something that is close to my heart.
We have not had the selections for the autumn internationals or the Six Nations yet, but the first round of the Heineken Cup certainly gave the chance for some players to stake an early claim for the Lions.
Ulster's Paul Marshall is a live wire and I thought his input into the game was outstanding. He is young and still learning the game but his pace is frightening and I think he will pose a threat to most sides. I would like to see Ruan Pienaar move to 10 and then give Marshall a regular start which would help push his claims for Ireland. I am very impressed with him.
Getting those decisions right comes with the territory - Youngs will know that and hopefully learn from it too. Youngs is far from being a bad player but I want to see him calm down, cool down and make the right choices.
Quotes of the week
On the other side of the coin I was disappointed with Connor Murray for Munster. I am all for people being aggressive and he did do some fantastic covering work in defence but some of his play was absolutely stupid.
He could have been yellow carded for the barge on Olly Barkley and then gave away that penalty when he tried to run it from his own 22 with five minutes to go. He is a big aggressive player and he tries to play in the role of a Mike Phillips at the moment, but he needs to learn to read the conditions and be more sensible. We all make mistakes but that could cost Munster dearly.
Youngs takes the blame
The same could be said for Leicester's Ben Youngs. I rate Youngs as a highly talented player but you cannot do silly things.
With the game in the balance he did not need to take the quick tap kick when a certain three points were on offer. Toby Flood said after the game not to blame Youngs; I am sorry but you do - Leicester coach Richard Cockerill and their supporters were far from happy by his lack of judgment.
We see nines taking the quick penalty and praise them but it is all about reading the game and seeing what is on. Against Toulouse in Toulouse and in those conditions, the quick tap penalty was not an option.
Getting those decisions right comes with the territory - Youngs will know that and hopefully learn from it too. Youngs is far from being a bad player but I want to see him calm down, cool down and make the right choices. Whether it will cost Leicester we will have to wait and see - they were in the game at that point but after that it went away from them.
It was refreshing to see Saracens score so many tries against Edinburgh. Whether they were that good or Edinburgh that bad remains to be seen - perhaps it was a little bit of both.
In this game we saw Richard Wigglesworth make the right decision and tap the ball instead of going for the penalty which resulted in Joel Tomkins' try. It showed that they can play that way and well done to Wigglesworth who went for it.
Another man in the mix is Danny Care. Now it is difficult to compare what Care was playing behind and the conditions to what Youngs had. Biarritz are a totally different team away from home and Harlequins got the upper hand which made Care's job a lot easier.
The conditions were much nicer than down in Toulouse and I know what it is like to play against a beaten pack with a wet ball. However I think it is even Stevens between these two for the England spot heading to the autumn internationals.
I think Youngs will be given the nod first, but I can see Care getting a start no matter how well Youngs plays because his form for Quins has been too good to ignore.
His reading of the game is great and he has some electric space. The speed of foot is as important as the speed of thought in this positions and he has them both.
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Bob Taylor says...
i really think this is the year Paul Marshall starts to overtake Murray, i disagree with moving Pienaar to 10, i think Pienaar should be used as a replacement or switch Marshall and Pienaar about cause with the Irfu rules Marshall can play every game, and keep Paddy Jackson at 10, who maybe not this year could be a rival for the 10 spot if his form keeps up
Posted 00:28 21st October 2012
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