Seven Ulster players start for Ireland in their summer “jolly boys” outing against Argentina in Estadio Centenario, Resistencia on Saturday evening. KO 19:40 UK/IRE.
It’s a match that will likely go down in the annals of Irish Rugby history as Robbie Diack’s and Kieran Marmion’s first starts but not for much else as both teams are well off their first choice selections. Mind you it could be entertaining enough.
The back three see’s Ulster’s Andrew Trimble on the right wing with Zebo on the left and Jones at full back so plenty of work for Trimby as he covers Zebo as he drifts out of the game and Jones’ poor positioning, both of which were exploited ruthlessly by the Ulster Academy players in their last outing at Thomond! :p
Darren Cave and Luke Marshall should slot seamlessly into the centre and they should get a fair dig at stating their claim in the post O’Driscoll era with Murray and Sexton inside them at half-back.
Rory Best gets a run out at hooker alongside McGrath and Ross, so a lot of work there for the Ulsterman round the pitch, and in second row Iain Henderson will have to drag the ageing O’Connell from ruck to scrum to maul to lineout! Seriously though, the legend that is Paulie should be at home with his slippers on enjoying a bit of R&R as he prepares himself for another season of dragging the Munster pack beyond their ability!
Back row sees the aforementioned Robbie Diack, alongside “Mr Reliable” Chris Henry, and, assuming hard ground, Robbie should have a pretty good début as I expect to see he and Henderson being the main ball carriers. The young, abrasive and hard-working Jordi Murphy, at No. 8, will certainly be more interested in grappling for the ball in the middle of the rucks, alongside Henry and Best, so it could balance itself out pretty well.
Of note on the bench is young Kieran Marmion who should get a good run at scrum half and well deserved it will be too. The jury’s still out on whether Rodney Ah You will get a start or not! Hmm!
Ireland: Felix Jones, Andrew Trimble, Darren Cave, Luke Marshall, Simon Zebo, Jonathan Sexton, Conor Murray, Jack McGrath, Rory Best, Mike Ross, Iain Henderson, Paul O’Connell, Robbie Diack, Chris Henry, Jordi Murphy. Replacements: Damien Varley, Dave Kilcoyne, Rodney Ah You, Devin Toner, Jamie Heaslip, Kieran Marmion, Ian Madigan, Fergus McFadden.
Argentina: Joaquin Tuculet, Santiago Cordero, Jerónimo De la Fuente, Gabriel Ascarate, Manuel Montero, Nicolás Sánchez, Martín Landajo, Lucas Noguera Paz, Matías Cortese, Ramiro Herrera, Manuel Carizza, Tomas Lavanini, Rodrigo Baez, Tomás De la Vega, Benjamin Macome. Replacements: Julian Montoya, Bruno Postiglioni, Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro, Matías Alemanno, Javier Ortega Desio, Tomás Cubelli, Santiago González Iglesias, Lucas González Amorosino