Alan Quinlan was on Monday’s OTB AM and hoped for a younger, more exciting Ireland team to come through in the next few years.
Most of Ireland’s key players in this World Cup were in their 30s, with captain Rory Best being 37 while their main playmaker Johnny Sexton is 34.
While Quinlan didn’t lay all the blame at the feet of the elder players, the former flanker feels that now is the time to bring younger players in.
“Our age profile is too high in this team. So I think David Nucifora and Andy Farrell have got to find young players now and promote them from the u20s and get them in there.
“Joe [Schmidt] did that. In 2018 he brought in Larmour, Porter, Leavy and James Ryan. James Ryan was brought straight into the team.
“He never played for Leinster. So he cannot be accused of not trying to bring young guys in,” Quinlan said.
Do Ireland have enough strength in depth?
The former Munster and Ireland player also felt that a lack of strength in depth limits Ireland in replacing players that are past their best.
“There are certain positions where the players aren’t there. There’s a couple of positions where you couldn’t say, ‘There are people being left at home that should have been on the plane.’
“There are a couple of areas in the squad, and that’s probably the back three, where Conway and Larmour were so good against Scotland.
“They bring that little bit of x-factor that we were talking about. That offloading ability, that dancing footwork. Maybe Joe should have thrown caution to the wind and said, ‘Right, I’m just going to go with them.’
“He was probably nervous that if he put them in against the All Blacks that they would have just kicked the leather off the ball and target Larmour,” Quinlan commented.
Andy Farrell will now take over as Ireland’s head coach ahead of the Six Nations and has some big decisions to make.
While players such as Johnny Sexton and Rob Kearney still have plenty to give, both are unlikely to make the next Rugby World Cup.
So the question is, does Farrell stick with the old guard for the start of his time in charge? Or will he immediately bring in young players in preparation for the future?