Picking Ireland’s 31-Man Rugby World Cup Squad For Japan

The Road to Japan.

Ireland now have just four games left to play before the Rugby World Cup in Japan later this year, with their warm-up schedule now more important than ever after a relatively disappointing Six Nations campaign.

But the good news is Ireland will be given an opportunity to right their wrongs from this year’s Championship, with three of their four fixtures set to come against the two teams that beat them.

Joe Schmidt’s men will play Wales home and away, as well as England in Twickenham and another game against Italy at the Aviva Stadium. Then it’s onto Japan for their Rugby World Cup opener against Scotland on September 22nd.

The warm-up games, coupled with the final few months of the domestic season will play a huge role in Schmidt finalising a 31-man squad for the World Cup. But here’s how we think the squad currently stands.

Prop (5):
Cian Healy
Tadhg Furlong
Dave Kilcoyne
Andrew Porter
John Ryan

As it stands Lions prop Jack McGrath looks set to miss out, with Kilcoyne just ahead of him. Andrew Porter can cover tight and loose so he’s guaranteed a spot no matter what. Maybe Marty Moore can come into contention but unlikely.

Hooker (3):
Rory Best (captain)
Niall Scannell
Sean Cronin

This could change in the next few months with guys like Rob Herring and James Tracy banging on the door.

Second-row (4):
James Ryan
Iain Henderson
Devin Toner
Tadhg Beirne

Ireland look fairly settled here with these guys clearly the four best locks in the country. But depending on form and injuries you could see guys like Ultan Dillane and Quinn Roux brought in. Munster’s Jean Kleyn also becomes eligible just before Japan and could very well be a bolter.

Back-row (5):
Peter O’Mahony
Sean O’Brien
CJ Stander
Josh van Der Flier
Jack Conan

Losing Dan Leavy is a massive blow for Ireland. The Leinster flanker was almost guaranteed to be the starting openside. Sean O’Brien now looks certain to travel if he’s fit, while there are question marks over Josh van der Flier because of his injury. If he doesn’t make it expect Jordi Murphy to come in.

Scrumhalf (3):
Conor Murray
Kieran Marmion
John Cooney

Tough one here. Murray definitely goes, but there’s three guys all capable of claiming the final two scrumhalf spots. A fit Luke McGrath offers something different and could possibly edge Marmion or Cooney out.

Outhalf (3):
Johnny Sexton
Joey Carbery
Ross Byrne

Perhaps a little harsh on Jack Carty here but something tells us Schmidt will go with Byrne come Japan. It’s business as usual for the other two spots with Sexton and Carbery.

Centre (3):
Garry Ringrose
Robbie Henshaw
Bundee Aki

Massive competition but these three are the best centres Ireland have – when they’re all fit and in-form. Chris Farrell could also come in, as could Will Addison either here or as a back-three utility player.

Back three (5):
Rob Kearney
Keith Earls
Jacob Stockdale
Jordan Larmour
Andrew Conway

As mentioned above Will Addison could very well travel here ahead of Conway (especially given he can play in the centre too), but for us the Munster man is a better player. Ireland have plenty of options here so it will be interesting to see who Schmidt selects.

Potential standby list:
Chris Farrell
Will Addison
Jack McGrath
Ultan Dillane
Jean Kleyn
Quinn Roux
Rhys Ruddock
Jordi Murphy
Luke McGrath
Jack Carty
Rory Scannell
Tom Farrell
Adam Byrne

Ireland’s warm-up fixtures:

IRELAND v Italy
Aviva Stadium
Saturday 10th August, 2019

England v IRELAND
Twickenham Stadium
Saturday 24th August, 2019

Wales v IRELAND
Principality Stadium
Saturday 31st August, 2019

IRELAND v Wales
Aviva Stadium
Saturday 7th September, 2019

Ireland’s Rugby World Cup fixtures (GMT)

IRELAND vs Scotland, 8:45am September 22nd
International Stadium, Yokohama

IRELAND vs Japan, 8:15am September 28th
Shizuoka Stadium Ecopa

IRELAND vs Russia, 11:15am October 3rd
Kobe Misaki Stadium

IRELAND vs Samoa, 11:45am October 12th
Hakatanomori Football Stadium