www.independent.ie, Brendan Fanning
Tomorrow morning in Carton House, Joe Schmidt will meet a group of Sunday hacks to share his thoughts on what’s around the corner for Ireland. In his head already he has the clear outline of the group he wants for the Guinness Series in November. That in turn will shape his thinking for the Six Nations in February. And he wouldn’t be doing his job if he hadn’t already sketched in a bumper list of the runners and riders for the World Cup, a year from now.
Form of course will influence his decisions and for those trying to second guess him it will be top of the agenda. But in a pool as shallow as ours it’s a distant second to the most important criterion: getting as many players upright for the selection process.
In rugby, the accepted estimate for the number of players unavailable to a squad is 20 per cent. This weekend in Ireland for example those figures read: Ulster 19.5 per cent; 12 per cent in Connacht; 22 per cent in Leinster; and 20 per cent in Munster.
Prominent in those numbers are those with anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) or shoulder issues. It seems a day doesn’t pass without news of a twisted knee or popped shoulder. And, understandably so, for the explosion in size, power and pace of those playing in the professional era has been well-documented.
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