Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 2 September 2014

Tyrone Howe: With form as the key, few can fault Kidney’s squad selection

Whether with Ireland or Munster, we have become accustomed to Declan Kidney’s ability to give absolutely nothing away — the ultimate poker player.

However, with his World Cup squad announcement the Corkman proved that he still has the ability to surprise.

Nothing hinted at the omission of Tomas O’Leary.

Granted, the scrumhalf has not had a good run of form and his intercept pass against France guaranteed that his stock would fall further, but I did not expect him to miss out entirely.

While Conor Murray will grab his chance, I expect to see the Leinster pairing of Reddan and Boss being instructed to do the same for Ireland as they do for Leinster.

I am absolutely gutted for Felix Jones. I watched him playing a star role in the Churchill Cup Final two years ago when Ireland A demolished England Saxons. His skill and pace on the ball were outstanding and really caught the eye. I can remember thinking ‘Who is this player?’ Since then, he has endured the most wretched luck with long term injury and, while it might not be quite as serious this time, the timing is as bad as it gets.

I would have backed him to make the squad. I am certain that Jones will have his day in the sun and his best memories are still to come.

Elsewhere, the right decision has been made in terms of Luke Fitzgerald’s omission.

There simply have been too many mistakes over a sustained period of time.

For me, the decision was between Fitzgerald (pictured) and Keith Earls, as I am a big fan of Fergus McFadden.

By now, the latter should have seen more time in a green shirt; his value is not fully appreciated by those outside Leinster. For the most part, form has been the key determinant. As a player, that is what you hope for.

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