Some things are worth sticking with for new-look Ireland

This is not France. There is no bottomless pit of players from which a head coach can pluck a new generation, as Fabien Galthié did for this Six Nations.

Some things are worth sticking with for new-look Ireland

This is not France. There is no bottomless pit of players from which a head coach can pluck a new generation, as Fabien Galthié did for this Six Nations.

The role of Ireland gaffer demands a more thrifty and resourceful approach, and Saturday showed the benefits of that strategy.

When Caelan Doris walked off just five minutes into his senior debut, he was replaced by Peter O’Mahony, whose form in 2019 had pared away much of the credit built up in the green shirt for years previously.

O’Mahony played exceptionally and his contribution was just one of those which turned the focus away from the newbies in the matchday squad back to men who had been there, done that, but now needed to do it all over again.

His Munster back row partner CJ Stander was named man of the match after a Trojan effort that reminded us all of the need to have a no-frills battering ram in the armoury. Add to that too the contributions of Devin Toner and Rob Herring.

Toner, like John Cooney, found that absence had made the hearts of the rugby public grow fonder. The roar of approval from the Aviva crowd when he made his entrance as a second-half replacement didn’t go unnoticed, nor the follow-up when he duly caught a lineout.

“I had to throw it to myself, didn’t I?” he joked. “That was what was open. It was good. There is stuff that I have to look at. I knocked the ball out of Bundee [Aki]’s hands when he was trying to pick it up and I gave away the free-kick for that lineout that got them back at the end.

"There is a little bit of execution stuff I’ll have to look at.”

For Herring this was a day that was long overdue. It’s almost six years since he made his Ireland debut off the bench against Argentina on a summer tour.

This was his fourth year to be involved in a Six Nations squad but Saturday was his first appearance in the championship.

It wasn’t his most productive game in terms of open play, with seven carries for just two metres and seven tackles throughout a 73-minute spell but his contribution from touch was almost exemplary, with Ireland claiming nine of 10 lineouts.

“I was happy enough,” said the Ulster hooker.

“We have really good callers. Everyone’s drill was spot on and when you have that combination, it makes it easy for the thrower. The calls Hendo [Iain Henderson] had made the job easy and took a lot of pressure off.

“Obviously I’m delighted with the way it went but I think we can still get a little more from the maul.

We need to start threatening a bit more with that, but that’ll come and we’ll look at it during the week.

There were subtle signs of change about Ireland at the weekend, from the willingness to run from their own 22 to the decision to dispense with the usual pre-match stroll through St Stephen’s Green, but the likes of Toner served as a reminder that some things are worth sticking with.

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