Rugby

“I’ll believe Kearney is playing when he runs out" | Matt Williams on potential replacements

Hugh Farrell
Hugh Farrell

19:20 18 Sep 2019


Matt Williams and Andy Nicol were on Off the Ball to discuss Rob Kearney and Ireland’s potential alternatives for the number 15 shirt at the start of the World Cup.

Williams admitted that Andrew Conway is the most likely to take over from Kearney if his injury were to become too much for him to start against Scotland. But he also wished that Carbery had been fit for a longer period in the lead up to the tournament.

“I wish for Ireland’s sake they would have had Joey Carberry there for a longer period, I would have loved to have seen Joey Carberry at 15 in some of the trial games.”

Williams believes that a second out-half on the field would aid Ireland like it has for the All-Blacks and Australia.

“The New Zealanders and the Australians are playing two out-halves on the field, one at 10 and one at 15 and they’re doing this to try and get around the rushing defence and they’ve had success with it.

“Australia in Perth, really troubled New Zealand and very rarely can you use that phrase ‘really troubled’. But they did by playing Beale at full-back so they had two ball players.”

Despite news that Kearney hasn’t been ruled out of the Scotland clash, Williams thinks that he’s unlikely to see action.

“I’ll believe Kearney’s playing when he runs out. A 33, 34-year-old doesn’t get over a calf injury in five or six days. They’re buggers of things, they can hang around forever.


“I don’t want that to happen for Rob’s last World Cup, I really want him to have a really positive experience, he’s been a great servant, he’s a lovely man and I don’t want anything negative for him. I’m just not sure that he’s ready to play.”

After Conway, Williams thinks that Ringrose will be the next option.

“I do think that’s the way it will go, I believe Ringrose will come at third, he’s a great player. A lot of people disagree with me, I much prefer Garry Ringrose at 13 to Robbie Henshaw. I think Ringrose and Robbie Henshaw are the best combination for Ireland in the centres.”

“It’s not as strong a team with Conway at full-back, a good player but not a great player.”

Williams also thought that Larmour should have been prepped for this possibility and wasn’t given enough time at 15.

“They seem to have abandoned Jordan Larmour at full-back and I think that’s wrong, I think the kid was just building up enough experience to feel comfortable there… you need to leave the kid there, give him time.”

He also compared Larmour to Conway, saying, “Do we know enough about him to say he’s going to be much better than Jordan? To me, we’ve sort have changed courses mid-race.”

Andy Nicol does believe that Ireland are in danger no matter who the replacement could be as Ireland will need an out-and-out full-back.

“If Kearney’s missing, that’s a big boost for Scotland because… there’s going to be some ariel bombardment to whoever’s there at full-back because they’re not an out-and-out full-back.”

“There’ll be a lot of ball kicked in the air from Russel, Laidlaw and Sam Johnson and they’ll put it up there to test whoever’s up there in the number 15 green shirt.”

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Andy Nicol Carberry Conway Kearney Larmour Matt Williams Williams

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