Toby Booth praises Bob Casey's response to axeBy Alan Manicom
December 10, 2010
Toby Booth has called for his players to follow the example of Bob Casey as London Irish seek to end a run of five defeats in all competitions.
The Exiles coach revealed that the club’s former captain showed the perfect response after being dropped for last Saturday’s 23-14 home defeat to Leicester Tigers.
Casey was axed from the 23-man squad following Irish’s dismal display at Northampton Saints five days earlier, while England international flanker Steffon Armitage was relegated to the bench.
And Booth warned that nobody’s place is guaranteed and he won’t shirk from making big decisions in a bid to jolt Exiles out of their current slump.
As Irish prepare for Sunday’s Heineken Cup Pool 3 game against Toulon, he said: “Bob’s response to the disappointment of not being selected has been absolutely exceptional. I have a great deal of respect for Bob and even more so after the way he has responded.
“He has a tabulated programme to force the issue and get back in the side. He is leading by example – and everybody needs to take a leaf out of his book to be honest.
“There is no divine right to be picked. We looked at a number of individuals. Some stayed, some didn’t, but everyone needs to make sure they are performing to the best of their ability.”
Irish will need to be at their best against a star-studded Toulon, who are funded by comic-strip mogul Mourad Boujellal, the Roman Abramovich of French rugby.
Toulon’s squad is so deep that in their opening two Heineken Cup games they were able to field almost a completely different team against Munster to the one that beat Ospreys a week earlier.
Only ex-London Irish wing Paul Sackey, centre Mafi Kefu and back-row forward George Smith started both games.
Booth said: “You are going up against the Harlem Globetrotters- Manchester City of rugby. I am sure every Premiership coach in the land would take some of their outcasts. It is the who’s who of rugby. If you don’t know them, you soon will.”
Toulon can call upon Juan Fernandez Lobbe, Carl Hayman, Felipe Contepomi and Jonny Wilkinson, a player Booth regards as the most complete fly-half ever to pull on an England shirt.
Exiles’ boss said: “He can kick, run and tackle. From a defensive point of view there is probably not a better fly-half on the planet.
“If he had not been so unlucky with injuries he would probably have been the most capped player of all time.”