The team to face Argentina in this Sunday’s quarter-final at the Millennium Stadium has been named after a week of injury headaches and a farewell to Ireland legend and captain Paul O’Connell.
There are just three changes to the side that toppled France last weekend, with O’Connell and Peter O’Mahoney ruled out by injury and Sean O’Brien suspended. Ulster’s Chris Henry replaces O’Brien at openside flanker and joins Jordi Murphy who takes the blindside in the absence of O’Mahoney. Jamie Heaslip captains the team at number 8 and is set to make his 80th appearance in an Irish jersey.
Iain Henderson starts in the second row alongside Devin Toner, with last week’s front row of Cian Healy, Mike Ross and Rory Best starting.
Jonathan Sexton returns at out-half to combine with Conor Murray at scrum-half and Ireland’s familiar centre partnership at this tournament, Robbie Henshaw and Keith Earls, come together for the third game in a row. Ulster’s Tommy Bowe lines up in the back-three with brothers Rob Kearney and Dave Kearney.
Rhys Ruddock has been called up for O’Mahony and could make his World Cup debut from the bench. Richardt Strauss, Jack McGrath, Nathan White, Donnacha Ryan, Eoin Reddan, Ian Madigan and Luke Fitzgerald make up the rest of the replacements.
Schmidt’s selection has proved Ireland’s strength in depth after a tough game against the French left key players, including captain O’Connell, with tournament blues. Ulsterman Henderson fills big boots in the second-row but there is no doubt he will give another fine performance, given his current run of form. Henry’s start at openside is another example of the squad’s depth with the Ulster favourite providing efficient service at the breakdown and in the loose.
Having battled with a groin injury last week, the return of Sexton is a blessing and will be crucial to Ireland’s decision-making. Argentina have impressed throughout the tournament so far, so it will be a tricky affair. If Ireland deal with the pressure of potentially reaching their first semi-final and maintain last weekend’s composed performance against France, they should go through.
The FRU predicts: Sexton’s contribution is key when punishing Argentina’s indiscipline, if he is firing on all cylinders, we shall see you at the semi-finals.
The other quarter-finals present some tasty match-ups, Wales V South Africa will be a close encounter. The Southern Hemisphere are challenging but the Welsh possess the passion and drive to go all the way in this one.
New Zealand V France is always entertaining but the All Blacks should come through, given France’s lack-lustre display against Ireland. Australia V Scotland is set to go the way of the Aussies. Their pace in attack and domination at the scrum will cause Scotland problems.
|Rob Kearney||15||Joaquin Tuculet|
|Tommy Bowe||14||Santiago Cordero|
|Keith Earls||13||Matias Moroni|
|Robbie Henshaw||12||Juan Martin Hernadez|
|Dave Kearney||11||Juan Imhoff|
|Johnny Sexton||10||Nicolas Sanchez|
|Conor Murray||9||Martin Landajo|
|Jamie Heaslip||8||Leonardo Senatore|
|Chris Henry||7||Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe|
|Jordi Murphy||6||Pablo Matera|
|Iain Henderson||5||Tomas Lavanini|
|Devin Toner||4||Guido Petti|
|Mike Ross||3||Ramiro Herrera|
|Rory Best||2||Agustin Creevy|
|Cian Healy||1||Marcos Ayerza|
|Richardt Strauss||16||Julian Montoya|
|Jack McGrath||17||Lucas Noguera|
|Nathan White||18||Juan Pablo Orlandi|
|Donnacha Ryan||19||Matias Alemanno|
|Rhys Ruddock||20||Facundo Isa|
|Eoin Reddan||21||Tomas Cubelli|
|Ian Madigan||22||Jeronimo De La Fuente|
|Luke Fitzgerald||23||Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino|