Unlucky omissions from Ireland's Six Nations squad will be better off for playing games during that time, according to Keith Wood and Rúaidhrí O'Connor.
Andy Farrell named his 37-man squad for the Six Nations on Wednesday. While there were not too many major surprises, the inclusion of Jack Carty in lieu of Harry Byrne was a talking point for the guests on Wednesday Night Rugby.
Many pundits have been singing the praises of Connacht's Carty all season. They suggested that his consistent run of form and exciting style of play could not be ignored by Farrell, and his selection on Wednesday would suggest that they were right.
However, the exclusion of the man that some believe is the future of the Irish 10 jersey, Harry Byrne, was something that former Ireland and Munster hooker Wood, and Independent rugby correspondent O'Connor could not ignore.
Both Wood and O'Connor agreed that Byrne's omission was down to his lack of game time, and so, not being included in the Six Nations squad will actually benefit him as he seeks to become Ireland's starting 10.
Speaking on Wednesday Night Rugby, Wood suggested that the most important thing Byrne needs to do is lace up his boots.
"I think Harry Byrne needs to play rugby, and an awful lot of it," Wood said. "He is not playing a huge amount of it.
"We have discussed this often. The view is that he has a high ceiling. That is people that see him all the time, and play with him all the time.
"He does show glimpses from time to time, but he needs to play a concerted amount of rugby. Jack Cart plays week in, week out."
Leinster should learn from Harlequins
With Byrne desperate for game time, Wood believes that there is one club in England that Byrne's province could take a lessen from in order to ensure that the young flyhalf cracks the Ireland nod.
"I'll talk about Harlequins, just for a second," Wood said. "Their key players play every single game. They play nearly every minute of every single game.
"You have Joe Marler, [Alex] Dombrandt, [Danny] Care, [Marcus] Smith, [Andre] Esterhuizen in the centre, they play every game pretty much.
"That gives the team that core security of knowing that they are there. There is a huge amount of chopping and changing [at Leinster], and we understand why there is at times, but people have to get a chance to have a run or else they have to move.
"Nobody wants to be a tackle holder, anywhere. They want to play rugby. These are rugby players, not rugby trainers."
Game time will help the unlucky omissions
Both Wood and O'Connor agreed that Ciaran Frawley was the most unlucky player to have missed out on the national call up.
They felt that Leinster's lack of games hurt the young playmaker-centre, and that James Hume was deservingly called up in his place.
However, both Byrne and Frawley will actually benefit more from not being involved in the Six Nations, according to O’Connor.
"I think Frawley could consider himself unlucky," O'Connor said. "When Leinster have been able to play, he's played. I guess it is just the lack of games that have caught up with him.
"There are centres ahead of him. There are games going ahead from the URC during the Six Nations.
"Harry Byrne hasn't really played at all. He's got one and a half games since he's come back and they didn't go particularly well. He really could benefit with a couple of games.
"I think for a young guy, you are nearly better off being out of this Ireland squad in some ways.
"Rather than holding tackle bags for eight weeks in a Six Nations training camp, as big an honour as that is, you might be better off just playing five games in six weeks and building a season trying to get on that plane to New Zealand in the summer."
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