As Ireland embark on their Summer Tour around the beautiful South African continent, we have to take note of how long this season has in fact been. From pre-season friendlies games, a massive Rugby World Cup, a Champions Cup and including the prolonged Guinness Pro 12 this season, it has been an eternity. Which stands to question ‘is there a real need for Summer Tours in this modern era of the Professional game?’
Many will argue Summer Tours are outdated and also many will argue it’s a platform for new talent. Tours are definitely something that should be reviewed to see if they really are a necessity in the modern game of Professional Rugby. Ireland are heading into a Summer Tour without some of their finest players though. Travelling without the talent and skill of Tommy Bowe, Johnny Sexton and Cian Healy [just to name a few] form the staggering injuries list. Going down to South Africa, where they eat, drink and breathe rugby, it’s going to be a massive task for this team missing out on some great players.
Putting the injuries list aside let’s look at the Summer Tours objectively as a platform for new guys to shine. Irish Rugby ended the Pro 12 on a high. Connacht Rugby came out on top to claim victory of the title which can only be described as a momentous and awe inspiring feat.
With that success in mind, Last Word On Sports have highlighted three players who can use this time in South Africa to their advantage, to tell everyone they have arrived in International rugby.
Three key players for Ireland
Dillane is currently signed to Connacht Rugby. Dillane started his rugby career with Tralee RFC where he came through the ranks with Munster Rugby Youths. Dillane left Munster to sign for Connacht where he has recently won a Pro 12 medal with the Province. He made his debut for Ireland in the RBS Six Nations against England where he not alone impressed Joe Schmidt but players and pundits alike. The talented lock from Kerry can definitely use his time in South Africa to impress as he has done up until now and make his mark on the International scene. At the young age of 22 he definitely has a very bright future ahead.
Healy is also currently signed to Connacht Rugby as a winger. Healy came through the All Ireland League now called the Ulster Bank League. Previously with Landsdowne RFC he has worked his way through grass roots rugby to earn his seat on the plane to South Africa. After a late call up to the squad Healy will have alot to prove to Joe Schmidt and his team to earn a permanent place within the Irish set up. Healy, along with Dillane, will definitely be fired up for this South African challenge. They have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
People are going to wonder – why I have selected CJ? He has arrived onto the International and Munster scene with a bang and has lead Munster Rugby through what seems to have been their most difficult season for many years. This man was told he was ‘not big enough’ to play International Rugby for his native South Africa. Stander has everything to prove to the doubters in South Africa–who maybe part of the reason he is in Ireland today.
The big-hearted flanker has adopted swimmingly to the Irish lifestyle, with the people of Limerick proudly calling him one of their own. Any player going up against Stander on this tour may step aside, ‘CJ is about to make his mark’ on his native homeland.
Prediction for the Tour
Ireland kick off their tour this Saturday in Cape Town. Out of the three games, this will be Ireland’s chance to get a win. Going to South Africa with an injury list as big as Ireland’s, one has to be doubtful though. The South African’s will not take any prisoners either, especially on their home turf.
Ireland coach Joe Schmidt’s’ squad may not be travelling to the Cape with their strongest side but if they can get big massive games from Dillane, Healy and Stander then anything will be possible on this tour. A tour where the question has been raised ‘is there a real need for Summer Tours?’. Yes, and on paper, Ireland may seem inexperienced but with youth and a strong point to prove nothing will seem impossible.
“Main photo credit”