Rugby Union: The perfect 10?

Joel Stransky runs the rule over his fellow playmakers
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The Independent Online


He seems to do the basics well and his kicking out of hand is good. However, the problem for whoever wears the Irish No10 shirt, whether it's Humphreys, Eric Elwood or Paul Burke, is that

they don't have the

type of forwards

to give them

enough decent

ball. It goes


saying that

no fly-half

is going

to be a


factor in

a game if

he is always on the back foot. Don't be surprised

if he struggles.



I've watched Paul (below) play a few games this season and I've been very impressed. He really has developed into a good, all-round fly-half with a lot of finesse. His kicking, obviously, is outstanding, but tactically he is so sound and he is now playing the game very flat which enables his backs to get across the advantage line. His return to full fitness following the Lions tour and the confidence that has brought him has been a big factor in Northampton's recent run of success.



I'm quite surprised the French have gone with him because I thought their fly-half would probably be Christophe Lamaison, Alain Penaud or even Thierry Lacroix. Castaignede

is predominantly a

centre, and he must

be an unknown

quantity at fly-half.

At centre, a lot of

what you do is

instinctive whereas

at fly-half you are

the decision maker.

But there's no

doubt he has a

lot of flair and

pace and if he

gets the chance

to use those

qualities he

could be very




He's very attacking - a tremendous prospect. He loves to run with the ball and look for gaps. His kicking is pretty good, too, but his weakness may be that he's quite light physically and can get battered around. He's exciting and unpredictable, perhaps for his own team-mates as well, but they will get used to him the more they play with him. Obviously Wales need Neil Jenkins for his kicking but he proved on the Lions' tour that he can be an effective full-back.



Gregor is a little unfortunate to find himself playing in the same club side as Grayson because he is the one who has to play centre. It is really difficult to play centre at club level and then have to play fly-half at international level, which is a big step up in standard anyway. His kicking game is not as good as it needs to be but his running game can be magnificent. He has a superb eye for an opening and he is very skilful at making room for other players to burst through.

Joel Stransky, the Leicester and South Africa stand-off, was talking to Paul Trow