Highlights on Off The Ball

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Highlights on Off The Ball


Stuart McCloskey can change the landscape of Ireland's backline against Australia

Brian O'Driscoll explains that Stuart McCloskey is deserving of his chance to move ahead of Bundee Aki in the pecking order for Ireland.

Brian O'Driscoll joined Ger Gilroy to discuss Ireland, Stuart McCloskey and Australia.

Bundee Aki's red card for Connacht was costly. It could be even more costly now.

Aki is on the bench for Ireland's game against Australia. While Aki is used to being on the bench for Ireland behind Robbie Henshaw and Garry Ringrose, he's now behind Stuart McCloskey. McCloskey was the forgotten man in the centres for Ireland until this window.

While he didn't standout against Fiji, he was very good against South Africa before going off injured. McCloskey now gets the chance to make himself a permanent fixture of the squad with a strong display against Australia.

Brian O'Driscoll explains the scenario for the Ulster back.

"Huge, huge game for him," O'Driscoll said.

"I've had my concerns with him in the past. And I've had these long, on-going conversations with supporters from Ulster that can't make sense of the fact that Stuart McCloskey doesn't have more caps. It's unfair to say he's a one-trick poney about his ability to carry over the advantage line but he does come across now as one of the best improved players on this island in the last year."

McCloskey's improvement puts him ahead of Bundee Aki as he comes off suspension. But if Robbie Henshaw was fit, it's likely that Aki would be on the bench with Henshaw in the starting team. Since McCloskey can't compete with Garry Ringrose, he's the odd man out still.

But he can change that with a big performance against Australia and further contributinos during the Six Nations.

"He's got way more dimensions to his game now. That offloading ability. I think he's now incredibly good at taking the ball to the line and carrying it, but also taking the ball to the line, carrying hard and pulling out the back. With the exact same look to the defence.

"A man of his size is going to sit individuals down. So if you get other good runners off him he's going to create space."

Joey Carbery didn't do enough against Fiji


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Andy Farrell Brian O'Driscoll Bundee Aki Ireland Rugby Stuart Mccloskey