Steven Sykes

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Donny B.
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Re: Steven Sykes

Post by Donny B. »

Cheerio Steven, we hardly knew ye (literally).

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ceemec
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Re: Steven Sykes

Post by ceemec »

Well, that turned out rather badly. Eddie Hekenui, Matt Leek, Juan Gomez, Johnny Hepworth....meet Steven. He's one of you now.

Would agree very much with you on Caldwell, Hugo. The bloke is realising his potential right now. His performances for Bath have been top drawer and he has been the most consistent forward for Bath this season. I've watching them about 6 times now and every game he stands out due to his mobility and work rate. He also has a good level of grunt about him in the close exchanges. I've spoken to some Ulster fans about him and they were disappointed about him leaving and are adamant that this is the level he's well capable of but Ulster just never got the best out of him. The penalty count has evaporated too which is a big plus. His contract ends in Bath at the end of next season and if he's able to maintain his performance levels, I'm all for signing him. He's going to be just hitting his peak.

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artaneboy
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Re: Steven Sykes

Post by artaneboy »

Scott wrote:His Leinster career totaled 197 minutes................did you see him play!!
Yeah, Cardiff too. He was fine- okay fairly anonymous. But competent. Always a bit sad when a love affair doesn't work out. I remember You-tubing his clips and being impressed, when he signed. :(

I'd say we go for Nagle. An ideal foil for Devon in the long-term. Munster would hardly let him go now, but just wondering is he HEC-tied?
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cormac
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Re: Steven Sykes

Post by cormac »

Scott wrote:His Leinster career totaled 197 minutes................did you see him play!!
Yep, saw every ineffectual minute he managed with us. Even saw his rather infamous pre-season appearance against Northampton and an anonymous run-out against the Ulster Ravens. The Steven Sykes who turned up in Dublin won't be missed.
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Blue not red blood
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Re: Steven Sykes

Post by Blue not red blood »

My shouts of come on eric, never took off sadly.
Thats eric sykes for u young folk

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LeRouxIsPHat
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Re: Steven Sykes

Post by LeRouxIsPHat »

Blue not red blood wrote:My shouts of come on eric, never took off sadly.
Thats eric sykes for u young folk
That's probably why he left.

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hugonaut
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Re: Steven Sykes

Post by hugonaut »

Flash Gordon wrote:
simonokeeffe wrote:Matfield might be worth signing just to break our hoodoo with SH locks (Sykes, EOD, Finnegan, Byrnes, Williams)
The other alternative is sign Northern Hemisphere locks. That Scots lad at Clermont looks a bit tasty......;-)

Hugonaut, great post on Caldwell, you nearly had me convinced......;-) The Ulster coaching staff (adn lads he played with) wouldn't have rated him too highly, and it wasn't just about attitude.....At the end of the day he's never made the breakthrough, he's not a kid anymore and he's playing for a bottom end club in the weakest first tier league in Europe. So given a choice between him and what we have, I'd take what we have. As European Champions, we should be targetting having top international players in all positions and to be honest, I really don't think Caldwell will ever get there.

LM I thought about Thorn too, but he's on huge money in Japan.....Matfied would be even better and if he wants to get into coaching what better place than the European champions to start the education!
In fairness Flash, no second row has 'made the breakthrough' since Donncha O'Callaghan finally displaced Mal O'Kelly permanently for the 2007 Six Nations five years ago. Kidney has been blindly/remarkably loyal to DOC, who has started more matches for Ireland under him than any player bar Drico [both of them on 32].

Dan Tuohy hasn't started a game for Ireland, Dev has only started one, Donnacha Ryan has only started one as a second row, Mike McCarthy has never started as a second row ... Micko [7 starts under Kidney] and Leo [6 starts] were used as patches when either DOC or POC were out, and that's it.

As for Caldwell 'not being a kid anymore', that's not necessarily a bad thing in my eyes. Dev Toner has taken quite a while to get to the physical standard that he's at now, and when you see the ages of elite second rows playing in the World Cup [Brad Thorn 36, Lionel Nallet 35, Matfield 34, Shaw 38, Nathan Sharpe 33, Danie Rossouw 33, Nathan Hines 34] it's apparent that a second-row's physical prime comes a lot later in life than that of a flanker or a centre.

We're getting great value out of a guy like 22-year old Ian Madigan this season [14 games, 780 total minutes], not so much out of 22-year old Mark Flanagan [3 games, 117 minutes]. Guys who are physically powerful enough to play HEC rugby as a second row as 22 year olds are as rare as hen's teeth. With the scrum possibly more important than it has ever been, you need that power as well.

There's only been one guy in the last five years of the Academy who tops out at 6'6", and that's Flanagan ... and he is nowhere near HEC level yet. There's a huge amount of time investment required in order to get second rows up to the required level of physicality, and it's a slow yield. Ian Nagle and Dave Foley are another pair of cases in point down in Munster. They're very highly rated [Nagle in particular, called into the Irish squad on the back of his sole – and very ordinary – start for Munster this season] but lack a lot of physical power compared to guys like Micko or Billy Holland, whom they might be expected to be leapfrogging for selection.

My point – longwinded, as ever – is that we are in a position, having produced very few second rows of the requisite height and stature in the last half decade ourselves, of needing to import second rows, be they Irish, NIQ or NIE. Bringing in guys who are close to or at their physical prime for a second row often means that you'll be bringing guys in at a later age ... if you're bringing them in from decent clubs, a lot of the physical groundwork will be done. No4s/front jumpers/tighthead scrummaging locks need to be enormously physically strong, and unless you're a freak like Simon Shaw or Bakkies, nobody is that strong in their early 20s. It's a position that is more about brute strength and physicality than possibly any other on the pitch. That's really the crux of my point.

I think there's a ready example of that in Damien Browne, contracted as a 31 year old, and a guy who has made significant improvement under the coaching staff at a relatively advanced age. His debut against the Ospreys was pretty-f*cking-ordinary back in early September, but he just put in a more than acceptable showing against Montpellier four and a half months later. I've great faith in the coaching abilities of Joe, Jono and Greg Feek, and the rest of the coaching staff and S&C team – if a guy shows up, works hard and is willing to learn, they will make him a better player and get him playing very close to his maximum potential.

Getting back to Caldwell, Bath not being a particularly good club at the moment is neither here nor there in my opinion – he's been there less than six months. When he played against us in the double header, he was impressive both in Bath [source: http://www.espnscrum.com/heineken-cup-2 ... 44282.html ] and in Lansdowne [source: http://www.espnscrum.com/heineken-cup-2 ... 44316.html ], especially in terms of his carrying.

I should say that all this Caldwell-boosting is predicated on us not being allowed sign a foreign capped international [a NIE second row, in other words] by the PCRG. That's the reason we got Sykes – because he would have been eligible to qualify for Ireland under the IRB's residency regulations. We were specifically prohibited from signing a capped international, as DK et al were worried about the bunching age-group of his second rows – POC, DOC, Micko and Leo all born within 18 months of one another. Of course, if DK actually picked younger second rows once in a while ...

However, with four international calibre No4s in DOC, Ryan, Tuohy and McCarthy starting in three of the four provinces, there's a slight chance that we may actually be allowed sign an NIE foreign international in a position where we're weak but oddly, Ireland are strong. Where do you get one, though? Albacete has just signed on for another four years with Toulouse, Bakkies' contract with Toulon is supposedly worth €2.1m over three years, and David Horwill is captain of Australia and therefore highly unlikely to move. I still think that Nathan Sharpe would be worth it next year for a one-year deal to play beside Devin, but he's the same age as Leo ... Leinster might go for it, but would the PCRG? Unlikely.

Regardless, I would still be a fan of trying to wrangle both Caldwell and Munster's Dave Foley for the 2013-14 season. Both of those players would be at the end of their respective contracts, and both would have spent the last two years under good coaches – Caldwell under McGeechan and Foley under McGahan and Foley. That'd give us a four-strong contingent of Irish second rows, all of them in their mid-to-late 20s [Caldwell 29, Toner 27, Foley 25, Flanagan 24] who we could keep together for a serious length of time.

EDIT: Apologies for the complete and utter f*cking essay.

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simonokeeffe
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Re: Steven Sykes

Post by simonokeeffe »

Donny B. wrote:
simonokeeffe wrote:Matfield might be worth signing just to break our hoodoo with SH locks (Sykes, EOD, Finnegan, Byrnes, Williams)
Well to be fair Nathan Hines is from Australia.
maybe playing all his pro rugby in NH broke the curse

"Sykes also revealed that at the time of the decision to relocate to Ireland, the couple didn’t realise that young Steven Robert Junior was on the way and the desire to bring up their first child closer to his grandparents played a major role in the decision to head back to Durban. “I’m really looking forward to a bit of warm weather,” he quipped." interesting, and another special project bites the dust

Nagle hasn't made a match day 23 in HC so am presuming he's not cup tied. There's always Terblanche...I reckon we'll hear about a signing real soon, can't see Sykes being released without there being cover lined up but lets hope it's not another panic buy like Newland or Shaw
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Oldschool
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Re: Steven Sykes

Post by Oldschool »

Blue not red blood wrote:My shouts of come on eric, never took off sadly.
Thats eric sykes for u young folk
Eric Sykes was a comedian, it must run in the family!

On a more serious note, could this be good news for Mick McCarthy or one of Munster's younger bloods with potential.
We may get an insight into Joe's thinking, next time Donny B. get's to talk with him in a well known drinking establishment.
Mirror, Mirror on the Wall who's the greatest player of them all? It is Drico your majesty.

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Donny B.
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Re: Steven Sykes

Post by Donny B. »

David Horwell, Hugo? :-)

James Horwell surely, or perhaps you want us to sign David Holwell for the third time?

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Logorrhea
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Re: Steven Sykes

Post by Logorrhea »

The shark fans seem happy he is going back. Looks like both sides win.

Shame it didnt work out.

Hornet
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Re: Steven Sykes

Post by Hornet »

Scott wrote:His Leinster career totaled 197 minutes................did you see him play!!
A few times. His performance for the 'A's at Esher was particulary underwhelming.
"The one thing we learn from History, is that we never learn from History".

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LeRouxIsPHat
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Re: Steven Sykes

Post by LeRouxIsPHat »

Oldschool wrote:
On a more serious note, could this be good news for Mick McCarthy or one of Munster's younger bloods with potential.
We may get an insight into Joe's thinking, next time Donny B. get's to talk with him in a well known drinking establishment.
McCarthy had a chance to join us and didn't want to. Pity, he'd have been fantastic for us and he'd probably have a better shot of playing for Ireland.

anonymous_joe
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Re: Steven Sykes

Post by anonymous_joe »

So do we know why he left...?
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Proudleinsterman
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Re: Steven Sykes

Post by Proudleinsterman »

Well I'd love to know who was responsible for picking out this donkey to replace Hines. I mean did he get a full game for the first XV.

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[Jackass]
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Re: Steven Sykes

Post by [Jackass] »

In the couple of times I saw Sykes, I thought he was awful, particularly against Cardiff (iirc) where he fluffed every restart.

I think in the medium term, Caldwell should be a massive target for us (no pun intended), as for the squad, I've been very happy with Browne so far this season, I think he's a good solid player and does a good job. No Nathan Hines, but has the bulk to do the physical job we need. He's 32 this year though, so a stop gap player really.

Toner has come along nicely, against Bath at home his finest display to date, sublime Hines-esque hands, but I struggle with the idea of him being first choice still. I think he's a superb squad player and specialist option off the bench, but don't see him a long term, top class lock.

Cullen of course a legend, but now getting an op and maybe on more season in him?

I'd like to see McLoughlin now given the oppertunity to convert to a second row. We're struggling with 1 top class option long term.

Flanagan, delighted to see him coming through, but still too early to give him major responsability, too soon for him.

I'd be wary of going for any of these Munster lads, you just don't know what you're going to get. I'd much rather the solution to be focus on developing Flanagan, convert McLoughlin, look to sign Caldwell at end of next season, and one major signing, plus existing option of Toner and a season or two left of Cullen & Browne. Definitely a major MAJOR Howlett / Rocky style signing though, and for minimum 3 years, but somebody world class. Lucklily we're at the end of a world cup cycle, so more players willing to move around I'd hope.

Shortlist of Ali Williams, Richie Gray (if there's anyway we can get in there before deal is done!! Surely he'd want Leinster!!), Courtney Lawes (I KNOW, I KNOW!! But he'd be a great signing!!), Al wyn Jones?? Slim pickings...
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hugonaut
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Re: Steven Sykes

Post by hugonaut »

Donny B. wrote:David Horwell, Hugo? :-)

James Horwell surely, or perhaps you want us to sign David Holwell for the third time?
I don't think I've ever got that chap's name right ... not even once.

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artaneboy
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Re: Steven Sykes

Post by artaneboy »

Here's a left field one for a short term deal: Bob Casey! One of our own and can't remember him playing for LI (certainly in the HEC) this season. He's a big unit and smart with it. It would be a sentimental favourite for those of us who remember him and a fitting coda for a prodigal son. Should be another season in him at least. So.... Is he injured, 'retired', or what's the story?
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Mauler
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Re: Steven Sykes

Post by Mauler »

artaneboy wrote:Here's a left field one for a short term deal: Bob Casey! One of our own and can't remember him playing for LI (certainly in the HEC) this season. He's a big unit and smart with it. It would be a sentimental favourite for those of us who remember him and a fitting coda for a prodigal son. Should be another season in him at least. So.... Is he injured, 'retired', or what's the story?
He played for the Not Nots vs Edinburgh on Sunday.
I'd love us to sign Nathan Sharpe, but doubt the PAG would sanction a 33yr old.
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Lar
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Re: Steven Sykes

Post by Lar »

[Jackass] wrote:
Shortlist of Ali Williams, Richie Gray (if there's anyway we can get in there before deal is done!! Surely he'd want Leinster!!), Courtney Lawes (I KNOW, I KNOW!! But he'd be a great signing!!), Al wyn Jones?? Slim pickings...
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