Alan Quinlan: 'It's so difficult to split who you should start over who you shouldn't'


Off The Ball
Off The Ball

15.18 29 Jan 2019


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Alan Quinlan believes picking parts of the starting XV for Ireland's opening Six Nations game against England this weekend will be tricky, comparing the exclusion of certain names to the feeling of "insulting players".

Speaking on Tuesday morning's OTB AM, Quinlan examined the Irish backrow and said that if the likes of Tadhg Beirne and Iain Henderson return to fitness, it would be difficult to make some selections.

"There are so many Irish players on that team that are under pressure - right across the board," he said. "Can you imagine being in a back row situation where you played Sean O'Brien at the weekend, would it be fair or right to leave out Van Der Flier for what he's done in November?

"And then what Dan Leavy did last year? They all have their own arguments. Jordi Murphy has been going well with Ulster.

"If Tadhg Beirne is fit, it's hard not to start him or at least have him on the bench. And the way Iain Henderson has responded. It just goes on and on and on."

Tough Decisions

He continued: "I'm trying to pick the team or speculate what it's going to be on Saturday, [but] you feel like you're insulting players. It's so difficult to split who you should start over who you shouldn't start.

"That's a great position for Joe Schmidt to be in. Having that sort of depth across the board.

"I keep going back to Sean O'Brien for what he's done before. If he's fit, get him back into the team. He offers that experience. But I would have to start O'Brien on the bench and Van Der Flier at 7."

England make the trip to the Aviva Stadium this Saturday afternoon as Ireland begin the defence of their Six Nations crown. You can follow all the coverage on OffTheBall.com or on Youtube.com/OffTheBall.


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