Gibson-Park could be Ireland’s World Cup match-winner

Gibson-Park could be Ireland’s World Cup match-winner Jamison Gibson-Park quietly had an outstanding Six Nations for Ireland, excelling for Andy Farrell’s men after ousting Conor Murray from the starting role. […]

Gibson-Park could be Ireland’s World Cup match-winner

Jamison Gibson-Park quietly had an outstanding Six Nations for Ireland, excelling for Andy Farrell’s men after ousting Conor Murray from the starting role. Gibson-Park started all five matches, scoring two tries, including one in the Shamrock’s narrow defeat at the hands of France at Stade de France. The 30-year-old has also been one of the driving forces for Leinster in their successful Heineken Cup campaign, orchestrating a demolition of Toulouse in the semi-finals of the competition.

Notably, he outperformed Antoine Dupont in the semi-final clash, which could be crucial for a potential showdown at the World Cup next year. Ireland were the only team to prove that they could match Les Bleus in the Six Nations, producing a fine effort under pressure in France. It could make all the difference for the World Cup when it is staged in France in 2023, with Ireland backed in the online betting odds at 8/1 to win the tournament for the first time.

The experience of registering a win over Dupont in a major competition should show Gibson-Park, and many of his Ireland teammates in the same side, that the Frenchman is human. The Frenchman was named World Player of the Year in 2021, and excelled once more in the Six Nations, cutting teams open with moments of brilliance.

Gibson-Park is the same height and weight as his counterpart, and although he does not quite of his dynamic ability and the pace to speed into a gap and score a try, he still has championship attributes. Few players in international rugby read the game as well as the 30-year-old. His decision-making, particularly in major moments, has been spot on time and again. Perhaps the most notable factor in Leinster’s triumph over Toulouse was the speed of his passing to capitalise on breaks and expose holes in the French outfit’s defence. When the stakes are raised, players at the scrum-half position can try to slow down the pace to allow the rest of their teammates to settle. However, Gibson-Park has found the perfect balance to keep his teammates at the right rhythm to great effect for Stuart Lancaster’s men at Leinster, and Farrell will hope at international level for the Shamrocks.

The familiarity of the players around him and quality certainly help. Having Johnny Sexton alongside him at number 10 is a huge asset, while the reliability of Garry Ringrose and Robbie Henshaw at centre provides him with a sense of security. Then there is the dynamic threat of Hugo Keenan and James Lowe at full-back and on the wings. Boasting that level of talent makes his work all the more easier, but Gibson-Park certainly brings out the best in his backs at club and international level.

The challenge for the 30-year-old will be to sustain his level of form. At the moment, Gibson-Park is operating at the peak of his powers and could simply be playing the best rugby of his career. Ireland will be desperate that it is not the ceiling for his growth, but the benchmark for the next 18 months and beyond in which he could lead them to the World Cup.

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