Luke Fitzgerald admits he barely slept a wink before Saturday’s great Irish
escape against Italy.
fitzGERALD HAS PROVEd HIS CLASSGive us a break: after his solid display
against Italy (left), Luke Fitzgerald hopes he will get another chance to
team up with Keith Earls (top) and Fergus McFadden (above) in the back three
against France on Sunday
But he can rest easier now, hoping that he and wing pair Fergus McFadden and
Keith Earls will be given further opportunites to prove themselves following
last weekend’s first outing together at 15, 14 and 11 respectively.
Previously Ireland saw the affable Fitzgerald as an out-and-out winger, though
he himself prefers full-back. At the weekend he got his wish to start in at
number 15 in the laboured win over Italy.
Simultaneously Leinster clubmate McFadden was given his Irish debut wide
right, while Munster’s Earls lined out on the left.
It was a young back three and one with considerable potential. Fitzgerald and
Earls are 23 and McFadden is 24. Fitzgerald has 17 caps, Earls won his 14th
on Saturday and McFadden hopes that last weekend proves to have been just
the first of many.
Bearing in mind the experience and try-scoring of the back five whose
injury-enforced exclusion saw that young threesome called together for the
first time in Rome, the gaps they were asked to fill were considerable.
Geordan Murphy, Rob Kearney, Tommy Bowe, Shane Horgan and Andrew Trimble have
been there, done that and filled several chests of drawers with the
tee-shirts. Between them those five have won 228 caps.
With injuries having ruled out Kearney and Murphy for the foreseeable future,
Fitzgerald would like to fill the vacancy for a full-back that has left.
Gavin Duffy probably has other ideas, of course, but that’s another matter
altogether. The Connacht man lost out against Italy and if Fitzgerald gets
his way Duffy is just going to have to continue to be patient. Currently he
is the man in possession and although, in rugby, that does not necessarily
translate as 9/10ths of the law, it does present a decent enough case until
such times as form dictates otherwise.
“I was delighted to get picked there,” Fitzgerald said in the wake of
Saturday’s 13-11 win. “Obviously I haven’t come into the Six Nations with
great form – there’s been a few bad injuries along the way – but, to be
honest, I was happy with my performance against Italy.
“I did what was asked of me and did the simple things well enough, which was
important for me. Hopefully that’s enough for me to get in again against
“As regards the two other lads, it was great for them to be involved. Fergus
is a good mate of mine and obviously a good buddy from Leinster, so it was
great to see him do well.
“Earlsy as well; he’s a friend from a long time back. We really enjoyed
playing together and hopefully we get another opportunity again in the next
couple of weeks and get used to one another and maybe creating a bit more.”
Fitzgerald admits that he saw the Stadio Flaminio outing as “a really big
opportunity for me”. But he also reveals that it took its toll in terms of
“I think expectations were pretty low – which is tough at times – I was a
little more nervous than usual, I must admit. I didn’t have a very comfy
sleep the night before. I was tossing and turning a bit.
“But thankfully I did a pretty good job, I think, and hopefully I’ll be able
to get a few more games in there and build up a bit of momentum in that 15
position,” he said.
He feels experience played its part in Ireland getting out of jail via Ronan
O’Gara’s late drop-goal winner in Rome.
“I think there’s a fair bit of know-how in this team now and a lot of very
experienced guys in there. There was no panic when Italy got their late try;
we re-gathered ourselves well on the line and tried to put pressure on the
Elaborating on that tactic he explained: “We were just trying to get in his
eye-line and make him miss that kick. I don’t know if we had anything to do
with it but he missed it anyway.
“Then we talked about trying to put good pressure on the kick-off and winning
the ball back and we did that. I thought we were pretty clinical when we got
in drop-goal range and obviously ROG did great to put the ball over. And we
held out well in the end.”
Fitzgerald will await tomorrow’s team announcement with considerable interest
– and probably not much sleep.
Continue reading here: Six Nations: Luke Fitzgerald can rest easy next time