FRIENDLY: Ten Ulster Players in Ireland 22.
I thought it would be a good few years till I was writing that sort of headline! OK, it may be a friendly against the Barbarians with Leinster players being rested but it is a good sign that nearly half of the match day squad is being made up of Ulster men.
With Ulster imports John Afoa and Pedrie Wannenburg likely to feature for the Barbarians, this time round, it brings the Ulster representation to 12 for Tuesday nights run out in Gloucester. KO 7:35pm.
Craig Gilroy, Declan Fitzpatrick, Paul Marshall and Nevin Spence should all make their Irish début at this level and they will be joined by Darren Cave, Paddy Wallace, Dan Tuohy, Chris Henry, Rory Best and Andrew Trimble.
Should Henry come through the run-out unscathed he should be included in the senior squad for the New Zealand summer tour and it would be nice to think that Craig Gilroy stands a chance of inclusion as well, but with the vastly overrated Zebo already selected it would take a remarkable u-turn by the stoic Kidney for the talented Ulster youngster to make the trip.
A composed performance from Paul Marshall, should he get sufficient game time, could be enough to sneak him onto the senior tour ahead of, the still injured, Isaac Boss.
Ireland’s most capped player Ronan O’Gara will captain the side.
The game is not being televised by the Barbarians and updates from the game will be available on O2 MatchDay Live on www.irishrugby.ie/live
Ireland XV: Keith Earls (Munster), Craig Gilroy (Dungannon), Darren Cave (Ulster), Paddy Wallace (Ulster), Simon Zebo (Munster), Ronan O’Gara (Munster), Conor Murray (Munster), Brett Wilkinson (Connacht), Mike Sherry (Munster), Declan Fitzpatrick (Ulster), Dan Tuohy (Ulster), Donnacha Ryan (Munster), John Muldoon (Connacht), Chris Henry (Ulster), Peter O’Mahony (Munster). Replacements: Rory Best (Ulster), Ronan Loughney (Connacht), Donncha O’Callaghan (Munster), James Coughlan (Munster), Paul Marshall (Ulster), Nevin Spence (Ulster), Andrew Trimble (Ulster).
It’s disappointing that this one isn’t going to be televised as with two pretty much thrown together sides it could be a highly entertaining game.