Gordon D'Arcy believes Andrew Conway has done himself “no harm” in Ireland's World Cup warm ups – but warns that Jordan Larmour's Japan dream could be in trouble.
And the former Leinster and Ireland midfielder believes such was the hammering Ireland suffered in Twickenham last Saturday, that Munster's Tadhg Beirne must be part of a serious discussion as to who wears the No 6 shirt in Japan.
Larmour, making just his fifth start for Ireland, scored the first try of the day last weekend, but endured a difficult day thereafter, missing five of his eight tackles as England destroyed Ireland out wide.
Conway was the sponsor's man of the match a week earlier, scoring a try against Italy, while also displaying safe hands in the air – something that could push him ahead of the Leinster man.
“Andrew Conway hasn't done himself any harm, but I'd say Jordan Larmour may have done himself a bit of harm,” D'Arcy said.
“Looking at the fringes, Tadhg Beirne was being looked at as a utility second row, but maybe now his selection may be part of a discussion over a genuine option at six.
“Then you have to see what happens with Cian Healy, what happens with Conor [Murray] as well. “The core group is nailed on, 23-24 players, it's not going to change dramatically, but the make up of that seven or so at the end may have shifted at the end a little bit.”
D'Arcy is concerned by what he saw in Twickenham, and admits there's not a lot to be positive about, but he insists the team can still turn things around – and points to how rapidly England flicked a switch after the recruitment of former All Blacks coach John Mitchell last Autumn.
“The pendulum has swung from guys buying World Cup final tickets last December to now being back 'out there' – I'm still in the middle,” he said.
“I'll wait to see what happens over the next four games; the two against Wales and then Scotland and Japan.
“That's not sitting on the fence, it's just they haven't become bad players overnight, Joe Schmidt has not become a bad coach overnight, so there is time to fix it.
“You need a lot to win the World Cup. You need more than luck. You need to be managed, to perform, everything has to happen for you. Selection, players on form, managing the whole thing.
“It is harder for the Irish team, because they have this legacy quarter final mindset hanging over them a little bit. But it can change in the flip of a switch.
“Look what England did when John Mitchell came in and took over their defence. He built what they're doing now on defence. Everything in the Six Nations was built on defence, Ireland just need some positive momentum in behind them, then they can build on that. There isn't lots to be positive about – but there's still potential in these guys, they are still fundamentally a strong team, they just need to give themselves a reason to believe.”