Denis Hickie – your Twitter questions answered
In the final part of my exclusive interviews with Ireland’s most capped winger, Denis Hickie, I ask him some of your rugby questions.
Denis Hickie Question 1
What are your thoughts on Luke Fitzgerald missing out on World Cup selection?
DENIS HICKIE – I was surprised to see Luke omitted. It has been very hard on him. He is an incredibly talented player. There has been a lot of competition for places among the backs. The fact that Fergus McFadden can play on the wing or at centre and is also a goal kicker, means he can offer a little more versatility to Declan Kidney. However, I am not convinced that Ireland, with it’s fairly limited pool of players, and not withstanding the quality of the players selected, can afford to leave a player of Fitzgerald’s quality, out of the squad. He has the ability to turn a game and there will come a time during the World Cup, where those skills are needed, and the more guys you have on the pitch with that ability, the better.
I have to say that the same thing happened to me when I was left out of the Rugby World Cup squad in 1999. It was very hard and you can’t help but feel very hard done by. But, this is part of the game. As hard as it is for Luke to accept, he is a very good professional and he’s one of those guys who will use this to improve his game. Sometimes an omssion from a World Cup squad can be the making of a player. In 2003, Gordon D’arcy failed to make the squad. He had been playing mainly on the wing for Leinster at the time. When Brian O’Driscoll went away to the World Cup, Darce was played at center by Leinster coach, Gary Ella. A few months later, D’arcy was player of the tournament at the Six Nations. That made him as a player and as a person and transformed him into one of Ireland’s great centres. They are the sort of things that can happen in rugby and there are always ups and downs in sport. It’s all about making the down times work for you as best you can. My instinct tells me that Ireland will miss him.
Denis Hickie Question 2
What do Ireland need to do to break down the Australian defence?
(Asked by @EmeraldRugby)
DENIS HICKIE – With the way the game and the rules are going, the key to breaking down any team is by having the ability to generate quick ball. Ireland have struggled with this during their warm up games. The Irish provincial sides have developed the capabilities of delivering quick ball going forward. This has contributed greatly to their recent successes. As straight forward as it sounds, if Ireland can take the play past three or four phases and recycle the ball quickly, they could cause Australia some problems in this Rugby World Cup. I expect that is what Ireland’s game plan will be.
Denis Hickie Question 3
Who is your prediction for top try scorer in the World Cup?
(Asked by Alex Mullin)
Off the top of my head I would say one of the wingers from either New Zealand or Australia. Both of those teams are playing the best rugby and obviously the further you go in the competition, the more chance you have to become top try scorer. I expect New Zealand and Australia to make the semi finals at the very least . So I’ll go with Kurtley Beale or Richard Kahui.
Denis Hickie Question 4
Who do you think will win the World Cup?
(Asked by @dmosullivan1)
New Zealand are hot favourites for the competition. They are playing at home, have a very strong squad and are better prepared than four years ago. The biggest threat will come from Australia. The Wallabies have a great ability to out-think teams. They have smart players and smart coaches who can figure out the game better than New Zealand in the very tight games. The All Blacks’ game plan is so usually so effective that they don’t even need to think about it, but when that does not work, they have tended to struggle to find a plan B. I am not saying that this New Zealand team will fall into that trap but that is what has happened in the past. So, New Zealand as favourites should win the tournament but keep your eyes on Australia.
I would really like to see a final between a northern hemisphere team and a southern hemisphere team. Personally, I would love to see Ireland as the northern hemisphere team. I feel that if England, France or Ireland can get off to a good start then anything is possible. It is all about building tournament mentality and momentum. If any of the European sides can do that, they will have a good run.
Thanks go to Denis Hickie for his time.
Thank you to everyone who read, tweeted/retweeted, commented upon and complimented my recent posts. I really appreciate your feedback – LineoutCoach
Part III: Denis Hickie answers your Twitter questions.
Gavin Hickie, USA Rugby U20s Forwards Coach, is a former Ireland, Leinster and Leicester rugby player now based in California and taking rugby to the USA. He writes for RugbyMag.com and other publications when not coaching for Belmont Shore and blogging on lineoutcoach.com #busy