A frisson of excitement has been generated with three new caps announced by Ireland for this all important match against England at Twickenham on Saturday afternoon. Kick off 4:50, live on ITV.
The inclusion of Ulster’s Stuart McCloskey has been the main talking point on social media but in all likelihood his role in this game is going to be peripheral to the main events up front and it’s here that Connacht’s Ultan Dillane will feature if he get’s a run out from the bench.
I didn’t think there were any more Leinster players available to play for Ireland but they have managed to find yet another with, the appropriately named, Josh van der Flier joining the back row in what should be a baptism of fire.
Ireland also welcome back Keith Earls, Mike Ross and Donnacha Ryan to the starting line up.
As they stand.
Unfortunately, it’s not an Ireland side that fills me with great confidence. There is a bit of desperation about Joe Schmidt’s selctions and he continues to rely on Sexton and Rob Kearney, two players who I’m not convinced are fully fit let alone on form. Any thoughts that he is developing a team for the next four years are quashed by the absence of Paddy Jackson, Craig Gilroy and Kieran Marmion, amongst others, and the style of play has been poor since, and including, the World Cup warm up matches.
Much has been made in the media of Eddy Jones’ allegation that Ireland kick too much with figures of 23% and 24% of possession kicked in Ireland’s last two games quoted in rebuttal. However take away the forward interchanges and I’d guess that Ireland are kicking away something like 60% of usable ball.
Looking at the teams I don’t see where Ireland can gain an edge. Sure McCloskey might inflict some initial damage on Farrell, but the England youngster is already a far more experienced player and should be able to counter later in the game. However the main issue is that Ireland’s front five will struggle outside of the line out and it’s here that I think the damage will be inflicted.
The FRU Predicts: It’s going to be backs to the wall effort from Ireland with England pulling away in the final quarter. 😥
|Mike Brown||15||Rob Kearney|
|Anthony Watson||14||Andrew Trimble|
|Jonathan Joseph||13||Robie Henshaw|
|Owen Farrell||12||Stuart McCloskey|
|Jack Nowell||11||Keith Earls|
|George Ford||10||Jonathan Sexton|
|Ben Youngs||9||Conor Murray|
|Joe Marler||1||Jack McGrath|
|Dylan Hartley||2||Rory Best|
|Dan Cole||3||Mike Ross|
|Maro Itoje||4||Donnacha Ryan|
|George Kruis||5||Devin Toner|
|Chris Robshaw||6||CJ Stander|
|James Haskell||7||Josh van der Flyer|
|Billy Vunipola||8||Jamie Heaslip|
|Jamie George||16||Richard Strauss|
|Mako Vunipola||17||Cian Healey|
|Paul Hill||18||Nathan White|
|Courtney Lawes||19||Ultan Dillane|
|Jack Clifford||20||Rhys Ruddock|
|Danny Care||21||Eoin Reddan|
|Elliot Daly||22||Ian Madigan|
|Alex Goode||23||Simon Zebo|