Teams are up for Ireland’s opening Rugby World Cup 2015 fixture, against Canada, which takes place Saturday afternoon at the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff. Kick off 2:30 pm, live on UTV.
Ireland have been handed the easiest of groups with a nice progression of fixtures and the final pool game, against France, the only one that should really matter. If it’s not the decider as to whether Ireland go on to face New Zealand or Argentina then something will have gone seriously wrong.
The schedule gives Ireland’s coach Joe Schmidt plenty of opportunities to continue to tinker as, under normal circumstances, any team that Schmidt puts out should be capable of a comfortable victory against the Canadians.
Four Ulster players involved in this one. Jared Payne, Rory Best and Ian Henderson to start with Chris Henry benching.
However the opening game of the World Cup brings it’s own set of circumstances and challenges and I’m pleased to see that Schmid has selected his strongest available pack and first choice half backs.
Canada will have been targeting this one for some time and their robust style of play is likely to cause Ireland some issues, especially if Ireland get involved in an arm wrestle up front. No mater how appealing, they must resist the many charms of Canadian captain Jamie Cudmore when he throws down a physical challenge!
The Canadian’s experienced wingers, Jeff Hassler and DTH van der Merwe, will be relishing the opportunity at having a one on one against Dave Kearney and Keith Earls but with none of the four wingers particularly renowned for their defence the Irish pair will be equally confident with the ball in hand. However I suspect that most chances, for both sides, will come from an over enthusiastic Luke Fitzgerald who is likely to provide an equal number of holes in both defences.
The FRU Predicts: Ireland’s half backs and pack should be too battle hardened for the limited arsenal that Canada have at their disposal, no matter how enthusiastically it is applied!
|Rob Kearney||15||Matt Evans|
|Dave Kearney||14||Jeff Hassler|
|Jared Payne||13||Ciaran Hearn|
|Luke Fitzgerald||12||Nick Blevins|
|Keith Earls||11||DTH vd Merwe|
|Jonathan Sexton||10||Nathan Hirayama|
|Conor Murray||9||Gordon McRorie|
|Jack McGrath||1||Hubert Buydens|
|Rory Best||2||Ray Barkwill|
|Mike Ross||3||Doug Wooldridge|
|Iain Henderson||4||Brett Beukeboom|
|Paul O’Connell||5||Jamie Cudmore|
|Peter O’Mahony||6||Kyle Gilmour|
|Sean O’Brien||7||John Moonlight|
|Jamie Heaslip||8||Aaron Carpenter|
|Sean Cronin||16||Benoit Piffero|
|Cian Healy||17||Djustice Sears-Duru|
|Nathan White||18||Andrew Tiedemann|
|Donnacha Ryan||19||Jebb Sinclair|
|Chris Henry||20||Richard Thorpe|
|Eoin Reddan||21||Phil Mack|
|Ian Madigan||22||Liam Underwood|
|Simon Zebo||23||Conor Trainor|