Ulster’s Paul Marshall back in hunt for Ireland call

Ulster's Paul Marshall at the Irish training camp on Monday
Ulster's Paul Marshall at the Irish training camp on Monday

IT had appeared that Ulster scrumhalf, Paul Marshall’s hopes of an Irish cap during the Autumn International Guinness Test series had gone - but he was back at Carton House on Monday making his case to be involved against Fiji.

This Saturday’s clash may have been downgraded to a non-Test game, but if Marshall did get the nod it would at least be deserved recognition for him.

Marshall was drafted in after Eoin Reddan picked up an ankle injury when he came on as a second half replacement for Conor Murray in the 16-12 loss to South Africa in Dublin on Saturday.

Neither Murray or Reddan showed anything that would have given any confidence for Ireland in the scrumhalf role as they build for a crucial clash with Argentina in a fortnight’s time.

On Saturday evening Ireland coach, Declan Kidney, hinted that he may look at giving some of those on the periphery an opportunity against Fiji in the game at Thomond Park, Limerick.

However, while he did mention a Marshall, it was Ulster centre Luke, he referred to.

Kidney is under pressure now to give some players game time, others who featured at the weekend a rest and also give opportunities to others, just as he did with Ulster backrow, Iain Henderson, Richardt Strauss, Michael Bent and Dave Kilcoyne, who all got their first caps - Strauss the only one who started.

With several big names missing, Ireland have now discovered how badly they need to have a strong squad so that players making the step up can do so comfortably and not hopefully, as was the case on the weekend.

Ireland lacked no penetration, with centres, Keith Earls and Gordon D’Arcy offering as little as Murray and Reddan had done.

Simon Zebo and Andrew Trimble were also not at their best - although Zebo’s appearance at fullback was an experiment which failed.

The pack competed well in the first half, but faded in the second against the stronger Springboks, with Chris Henry and Mike McCarthy the only pair to come out with reasonable ratings.

Paul Marshall was joined at training on Monday by Roger Wilson and Paddy Jackson with a plethora of other Ulster players already in camp hoping for an opportunity from Kidney who will hopeful break with tradition and throw a bit of caution to the wind.