So the first opportunity to look at our rugby team after the New Zealand debacle. This was a second string South Africa at the end of their season, so surely we should have a good chance - we're fit and fresh after a couple of Heineken rounds.
But what a poor and disappointing encounter. The spirited physicality couldn't mask the tactical cluelessness. Did we ever even come close to scoring a try? No we didn't despite having about 60% possession. Our lineout misfired and our scrum surely creaked but in general our forwards manned up and matched the Boks physically. The backs however lacked all creativity against an admittedly stifling South African defence. Nary a one of them played well. Zebo kept missing touch with his much vaunted left foot, Bowe and D'Arcy were anonymous (a few fine tackles mind you), Trimble was fumblingly out of sorts, Earls huffed and puffed to no avail (and made mistakes), Sexton took his goals but otherwise seemed out of it and as usual Murray was way too bloody ponderous.
It's hard to know where to go from here with our backs. Kearney's return will help, but D'Arcy is over the hill, so perhaps is O'Driscoll now, and I still can't see Earls as an international centre. Bowe and Trimble haven't played well for a while and Murray is too slow, it's only a matter of time before his predictable box kicking ends in disaster. As a short term measure I'd play O'Gara at out half, Sexton and McFadyean in the centre and Earls and Bowe on the wings. And Reddan of course at scrum half.
And another thing, Jamie Heaslip is living on past glories. O'Brien, Ferris and O'Mahoney (at 8) should be our back row in the 6 Nations, with Henry on the bench.
And yet another thing, Kidney is clearly past his sell by date. Why do Leinster do so much better than Ireland with many of the same personnel? The Pres boy is sadly lacking in attacking ideas. Being a good manager is not enough. Oh Warren Warren why did we forsake you.