Why Joe Schmidt should have added Matt Healy to his Six Nations squad

Both Craig Gilroy and Matt Healy have been in fine form this season, and would add a cutting edge to Ireland's blunt attack

Why Joe Schmidt should have added Matt Healy to his Six Nations squad

©INPHO/Francesca Soli

Craig Gilroy has forced his way into the Irish squad, but what must Matt Healy do to feature in Joe Schmidt's plans?

After another weekend of Pro12 action, Healy has made himself nearly impossible to ignore for national selection. 

Connacht's surge toward the summit of the Pro12 has been nothing short of sensational with Pat Lam's charges not just winning, but doing so in style. 

Their victory over Zebre on Saturday made it 15 points from a possible 15 in their last three games as they finish the weekend top of the table. 

Central to their stunning season has been Healy, who has long been the form winger in Ireland, and again he showcased the best of his attacking attributes as he ran in his first ever Connacht hat-trick in Italy. 

Blessed with pace to burn, Healy once again showed Ireland what they're missing with a wonderful score for the first of his three as he breezed past his opposite wing on the outside before showing excellent balance to step 100 cap All-Black Mils Muliaina and ghost in under the posts. 

 

His ability to pick a line was seen in the second as he popped up on the shoulder of AJ MacGinty to benefit from the outhalf's initial break before completing his hat-trick after Craig Ronaldson's grubber through bounced favourably for the ex-Lansdowne man. 

His scoring exploits from the weekend have seen him shoot to the top of the Pro12's try scoring charts with eight (nine overall) and to the forefront of the mind of the rugby loving public who yearn for an Irish side with an expansive, attractive style of play. 

That's not to talk down the showings of Craig Gilroy, the forgotten man of Irish test rugby, who gave everybody a fresh reminder of what he is capable of this weekend.

Ulster slid down the table after today's home loss to the Scarlets, but despite the result,  Gilroy once again stood out from the crowd with a wonderful, individual score from within his own half, something which surely caught the attention of Schmidt, given he named him in his squad.

 

That was Gilroy's seventh try of the season following doubles against Munster and Benetton Treviso earlier in the season. 

The Ulster wing finished second in last year's try Pro12 scoring charts with 11, and was also awarded try of the year with an outstanding exhibition of broken field running against today's opponents in last season's fixture. 

Ireland's defeat to France saw a culmination in frustrations from fans, as the sight of the versatile, but limited Fergus McFadden coming off the bench was greeted with little else but moans from disgruntled viewers and social networkers. 




With three key backs missing through injury in Luke Fitzgerald, Simon Zebo and Tommy Bowe, there is a common consensus that Ireland severely lack quality and flair out wide, not to mention speed or finishing ability.

The idea that McFadden was the ideal candidate to replace Keith Earls or Zebo was bewildering, given the fact that he has scored just six Pro12 tries for Leinster since 2012, while Healy has managed 18 tries and Gilroy 20 in the same period of time. 

Renowned as a pragmatist, Schmidt has been walking the fine line between practicality and conservatism since the beginning of this year's tournament but with dreams of a third consecutive championship all but crushed, there won't be a better time to blood new players than this.