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'John Cooney is in the two best scrumhalves in Ireland' | Gordon D'Arcy

John Cooney has every right to feel aggrieved with his Irish situation and look abroad to Scotland for his international future, according to former Ireland centre Gordon D'Arcy.



John Cooney has every right to feel aggrieved with his Irish situation and look abroad to Scotland for his international future, according to former Ireland centre Gordon D'Arcy.

Under the current World Rugby eligibility laws, Cooney can become available to switch allegiances to Scotland as early as February next year.

Cooney's father is a 'proud Scotsman', meaning that he is eligible to play in Scotland. Additionally, the new World Rugby laws state that a player may switch allegiance provided there is a three year gap between the switch and their last cap for their current nation.

As it stands, the last of Cooney's 11 caps for Ireland came in February 2020, against England. D'Arcy feels the Ulster halfback is right to be looking elsewhere if the current Irish coaches do not want to include him in their plans.

Cooney is in the top three scrumhalves in Ireland

Speaking on Wednesday Night Rugby, D'Arcy looked at the form of the Ulster scrumhalf. With his performances in the URC and Champions Cup over the last 12 months, D'Arcy cannot see too many Irish halfbacks ahead of Cooney.

"For me, he is in the two best scrumhalves in Ireland," D'Arcy said. "On a purely rugby basis. Just judge him on what he does between the white lines in 80 minutes, he suits exactly the way Ireland have played.

"If you look at, say, New Zealand who are the standard bearers, maybe not this at the moment, but they play two very similar scrumhalves in Aaron Smith and TJ Perenara.

"They don't have that contrasting type of approach. They double down on the way they want to play.

"Something doesn't add up in here. Anyone with two eyes watching him perform knows he should be in the top two or three scrumhalves in Ireland. Unquestionably. So, something doesn't fit."

Ireland coaches haven't gotten much wrong

However, D'Arcy feels that Andy Farrell and the Irish coaches have more than enough credit in the bank to be able to leave out Cooney and be justified for their decisions.

"You can have that [opinion] and you can talk about it, that's fine, but we don't make these coaching decisions," D'Arcy said. "The coaching group have made a decision on him.

"To be fair, they haven't really gotten many things wrong. So, for whatever reason, we're not privy to it, it will never come out, we'll never get a definitive answer to it.

"If it was purely on performance, I would say he has a very strong case to feel aggrieved and clearly does feel aggrieved. There's obviously more to it, but this coaching ticket has massively earned the right to make big decisions like this."

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