The Ulster scrum-half is on the bench for the contest at the Aviva Stadium, which begins a new era under Andy Farrell in Ireland.
The 29-year-old has arguably been the form player in Europe this season (although Racing 92’s Virimi Vakatawa may have something to say about that), having bounced back from missing out on Ireland’s World Cup squad.
It would have been an absolute aberration had he not been selected for this match.
However, the fact that he has only made the bench in a side showing just two changes from the starting XV that beat Scotland at the World Cup has still surprised many.
Murray ahead of Cooney makes zero sense on form but then again Maybe that’s why I’m not the coach. I guess we’ll see.
— Brian Hogg (@_hoggy86_) January 28, 2020
Not including @JCooney09 is a big call given his form this season….
— Roy McComb (@RoyMcComb) January 28, 2020
Is the team not supposed to be picked on form?? Cooney should be the first name on the team sheet.Murray has done his https://t.co/Eo691SKcMd can’t build a team for the future around finished players. @UlsterRugby
— Sean Walsh (@seanwalsh82) January 28, 2020
Farrell has said that he will pick players based on form, which is more or less accurate when looking at the rest of the squad as it does reflect Leinster’s superiority at the moment.
While Conor Murray has held onto the Ireland nine shirt for most of the past decade, it would be absurd to suggest he is in better form than Cooney currently.
I like the team. Although I would have started Cooney, Murray's demise and Cooney's form have been exaggerated. I'm not so keen on the bench. Henshaw, O'Mahony and Toner seem weird bench selections. https://t.co/4U0WRTjXxD
— Colin McBride (@colin_a_mcbride) January 28, 2020
Great to see Herring stepping into Rorys shoes. Deserves his shot. But you have to wonder what Cooney needs to do… Nomination for European player of the year & unplayable form doesnt seem to do it. Some sort of Saracen style transaction to Andys bank account the next step?? https://t.co/DuD2hyzjx9
— Chris Brett (@ChrisBrett1) January 28, 2020
I get that Murray has credit in the bank, but I think it's time for Cooney. https://t.co/64En9ocJ6Q
— Stephen Allen (@Elephantlens) January 28, 2020
The Munster scrum-half’s standard has dropped from the lofty heights of 2018, while his rival is both the Guinness PRO14’s and the Heineken Champions Cup’s top scorer, as well as the second top try-scorer in Europe’s elite competition.
Not a bad team. But I'm gutted for Cooney not to be starting, Murray is Ireland's greatest ever scrum half & at his best is world class, but he's nowhere near Cooney's level of form. Also baffled by Addison's ommison from the 23. POM seriously lucky to make the 23 aswell. https://t.co/jlNfu5qLBb
— Ruairi O'Cathain (@RoryOKane_Raz_) January 28, 2020
Give Murray 40 mins and give Cooney 40 mins. See who does better
— archie hanna (@archiehanna3) January 28, 2020
However, former Ireland international Tommy Bowe has noted that the experience of Murray may prove beneficial with Caelan Doris making his Test debut at No8.
Additionally, in a game that Farrell will be desperate to win, it is understandable that he has turned to the longstanding partnership between Murray and Jonathan Sexton.
Surprised John Cooney hasn’t been given the nod but understand with Doris winning his first cap at 8 and Farrell’s first game as boss the experience at 9&10 is vital. Strong team! https://t.co/alDvlDYhdQ
— Tommy Bowe (@TommyBowe) January 28, 2020
With 83 Test caps for Ireland and the British and Irish Lions, Murray has far more experience than Cooney, who only has eight Ireland caps and only one start.
But many are expecting Cooney to get a lot of game time against Scotland on Saturday, as he deserves to be given the chance to bring his searing club form into the Test arena.
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