Peter O’Mahony is set to face Wales on Sunday. Photo: Seb Daly/Sportsfile

Can Ireland bring 6 Nations home?

Seamus Branagh

The Six Nations is only days away and all Irish fans have many questions, doubts, opinions, and hopes. But all this leads to one thing, can they bring it home?

Let’s have a look at some of the major talking points ahead of the tournament.


The Irish lineout has become a real weakness since the Irish coaching team dropped Devin Toner. For years Toner called the lineouts and was arguably one of the best in the game at securing clean ball. There isn’t an issue with Toner being dropped as the likes of James Ryan, Tadgh Beirne, Ian Henderson, and Quin Roux are younger and offer more around the pitch, however, the coaching staff need to find a successor for calling lineouts.

Head Coach Andy Farrell has recruited Ireland’s best lineout operator in Paul O’Connell to take the role of forwards’ coach. Ireland need to sort out this issue especially due to their kick-heavy game plan that leads to many set pieces.

Back row

The Irish back row is up there with the most competitive groups in this position in world rugby. In the squad for the 2021 Six Nations, there’s Caelan Doris, Will Connors, CJ Stander, Josh Van Der Flier, Peter O’Mahony, and Rhys Ruddock in terms of out and out back rowers with the option of playing Henderson or Beirne at 6. So how do you best utilise such a talented group of players? The best combination might be to play Stander on the blindside, O’Mahony on the openside and Doris at 8. Although two out of the three players aren’t in their primary positions, both Stander and O’Mahony have shown they are class at 6 and 7. Doris is the obvious choice at 8 as he not only brings explosiveness but also has shown a wide array of skills in the open field.


The major talking point here is the omission of Jacob Stockdale, although it’s due to injury. It does open the door for someone to stake a claim on the Irish 15 shirt. We’ve seen Robbie Henshaw try, we’ve seen Jordan Larmour try, but neither has done enough to fill the big boots of Rob Kearney. Perhaps it’s time to give Hugo Keenan his chance to impress. He had a big breakout year last year with Leinster. He’s still young at 24 and could be the long-term solution with Stockdale moving back out onto the wing when he returns.

Ireland play Wales on Sunday 7 February. Kick-off at the Principality Stadium is at 3pm.

Seamus is a 15 year old TY student in St Colman's College, Fermoy. Check out the St Colman's sports podcast 'Colman's Podcast' which is available on Spotify.