Ireland have announced, what would largely be regarded as, an makeshift side for their first match on the road to World Cup glory.
The team to face the Scots at Murrayfield on Saturday afternoon (KO 2:15) sees three Ulster players start with Trimble and Wallace getting the nod in an experimental backline and Court in the front row where he should expect an easy ride alongside scrummaging giants Cronin and Buckley! (God help him – well at least someone help him!)
The match probably only has any real relevance for Wallace, McFadden, O’Leary and Kearney, plus Boss and Jones should they get on, as they all still have something real to prove, fitness wise or competitively, if they are to be on the plane at the end of the month.
These are always difficult games to call and in fairness they are difficult games to select for. While it may be highly unlikely that Ryan, McCartney or Ronan are going to be travelling, a lot of this game will depend on how they perform against their opposite numbers, particularly the guys in the back row where the Scots have a huge advantage, probably enough of an edge to give Scotland the advantage in this one.
But I still find it very difficult to call as there are way too many variables under the circumstances. Scotland only have two warm up games and are already looking to protect their meagre resources, just how hard they’ll go at it I don’t know.
Ireland on the other hand are extremely rusty, have not put out a team so bereft of “the golden generation” since the last World Cup warm ups, add the pit of the stomach feeling that the injury situation is worse than is being let on and a couple of long-term crocks are making their competitive comeback and it’s really anyones guess as to what sort of match we’ll see.
Let’s hope it’s a least entertaining. It would be a disappointing start to the World Cup build up if it was an overanxious, error laden, snatchy, scratchy bore fest, though I think it just might be!
At the end of the day I’ll go with my gut instinct – Scotland by 7.
|C Paterson (Edinburgh)||15||Rob Kearney (Leinster)|
|N Walker (Ospreys)||14||Andrew Trimble (Ulster)|
|J Ansbro (London Irish)||13||Fergus McFadden (Leinster)|
|G Morrison (Glasgow Warriors)||12||Paddy Wallace (Ulster)|
|S Lamont (Scarlets)||11||Luke Fitzgerald (Leinster)|
|R Jackson (Glasgow Warriors)||10||Jonathan Sexton (Leinster)|
|R Lawson (Gloucester)||9||Tomas O’Leary (Munster)|
|A Jacobsen (Edinburgh)||1||Tom Court (Ulster)|
|R Ford (Edinburgh)||2||Sean Cronin (Leinster)|
|G Cross (Edinburgh)||3||Tony Buckley (Sale)|
|J Hamilton (Gloucester)||4||Donnacha Ryan (Munster)|
|R Gray (Glasgow Warriors)||5||Leo Cullen (Leinster)|
|A Strokosch (Gloucester)||6||Mike McCarthy (Connacht)|
|J Beattie (Glasgow Warriors)||7||Niall Ronan (Munster)|
|R Rennie (Edinburgh)||8||Denis Leamy (Munster)|
|D Hall (Glasgow Warriors)||16||Jerry Flannery (Munster)|
|A Dickinson (Sale Sharks)||17||Marcus Horan (Munster)|
|A Kellock (Glasgow Warriors)||18||John Hayes (Munster)|
|D Denton (Edinburgh)||19||Mick O’Driscoll (Munster)|
|G Laidlaw (Edinburgh)||20||Kevin McLaughlin (Leinster)|
|N De Luca (Edinburgh)||21||Isaac Boss (Leinster)|
|J Cuthbert (Bath)||22||Felix Jones (Munster)|