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    6N mediocrity



    Six Nations mediocrity allows Henry to sleep


    By Mick Cleary



    Meanwhile, Graham Henry sleeps easy in his bed. The New Zealand coach will not have been perturbed by anything that he has seen so far from the opening two rounds of the RBS Six Nations championship. A fortnight ago his All Blacks side were favourites to win the World Cup in eight months' time. This morning they are still favourites.


    We are waiting for lift-off, on the lookout for emerging stars or regenerating heroes. True, Jonny Wilkinson put the feel-good factor back into Twickenham, albeit it was a short-term let. Jason Robinson has been sharper in a white shirt than he has been in a Sale shirt. Mike Tindall looks in decent nick in the England midfield, so too Gordon D'Arcy across the Irish Sea. Harry Ellis has rediscovered his fizz as well as his grey matter in working out how to boss a game: head as well as heart is the nub of it.
    But it's been a middling championship. There has been emotion and occasional brilliance but no sustained quality. It's vin ordinaire rather than vintage, although the hordes of celebrating Frenchmen wheeling round St Stephen's Green on Sunday night were happy to glug anything they could get their hands on.


    Only France and England can now land a Grand Slam. There was not much joy in the Dublin air yesterday morning. As the rains drizzled down from pewter skies the realisation that another chance for a Slam had gone began to hit home. Jackie Kyle and his chums of 1948 remain on their plinth.


    There's a chilling sense that this Irish generation might never bring home the goodies. They have been together for some while now, grown together and suffered together. True, it did take Clive Woodward's mob a while to nail the Grand Slam, their bumpy route also contributing towards their eventual triumph in Australia.


    But Ireland have stalled. Have they reached the plateau and are they staring down the other side? The World Cup, however, does present a chance for redemption.


    Ireland are nowhere near the same force without Brian O'Driscoll. What side would be? It was no coincidence that France's decisive score came down O'Driscoll's channel. It is his defensive ability and sheer presence that means so much to Ireland. In attack, lively as Gordon D'Arcy was on occasions, there was a feeling that everyone's radar was slightly off-beam. They couldn't find each other with the same reassuring accuracy as when O'Driscoll is there. He is expected to be back for England's visit to Croke Park next week. Let's hope that the historical significance of England appearing on the hallowed GAA turf does not swamp the entire occasion. If it does, it will affect Ireland more than England. That's what happened against France. Coach Eddie O'Sullivan finally admitted as much yesterday.


    We should find out some interesting things come Saturday week. Are Ireland all that they are cracked up to be? Successive home defeats would blow a hole in their credibility. We should also discover if Andy Farrell is all that he is cracked up to be, all the more so if O'Driscoll does play. Farrell is an imposing figure, a notable asset in its own right. But this is his big test. He has to show that he can handle top-notch union centres, D'Arcy and O'Driscoll, messing with him.


    If he can do that, and also create his own bit of mischief, then we can nod our approval and look forward to the maturing of a high-grade England midfield. But if he should wobble, if he should struggle to cope, then others will take note.


    Finally, what to make of Wales ? You'd have landed a damn good return on your investment if you'd wagered that Wales would be tryless after two games. All movement and no punch. All posture and no substance. Coach Gareth Jenkins is already being subjected to some pretty harsh barbs. Can he take the strain? Wales are in Paris next. Saturday night kick-off. Tough assignment.


    Henry kno

    #2
    You get the impression that the watching G. Henry will be far more worried about Austrailia & SA than any of the 6N's team going on what he's seen. France are the only team in a bit of form & they've beaten a disappointing Italy & a poorly coached Irish team so far.
    Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again (like picking Gordon D'Arcy) and expecting different results.
    Albert Einstein

    Comment


      #3
      I dont know, ifa big English or French pack turn up and play it tight they could cause trouble.
      Even our own lot arent bad, and in a one off game who knows?

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