5 Talking Points As Joe Schmidt Names His Ireland Team For Argentina Test
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A few surprises.
Head coach Joe Schmidt has named his Ireland side for this weekend’s clash with old rivals Argentina at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin.
Schmidt has largely gone with the same group of players that demolished the Springboks a couple of weeks back, with just a handful of changes. The big one sees Adam Byrne come in for his Ireland debut on the wing in place of the in-form Andrew Conway, while Chris Farrell slots in at outside centre in place of the injured Robbie Henshaw.
In the forwards it’s the same pack that dominated the Boks, bar James Ryan who comes in for his first start of the series, having missed the Fiji game through injury. Rory Best will once again captain the side.
On the bench, Munster’s Dave Kilcoyne and John Ryan come back in, while Luke McGrath is preferred to Kieran Marmion. Ian Keatley will cover Johnny Sexton off the bench, with Joey Carbery unavailable through injury.
Here are five talking points.
Adam Byrne starts.
Huge surprise here, especially given the kind of form Andrew Conway is currently in. Byrne has been excellent this year for Leinster, but his defence is still a little suspect. Perhaps a bit of a risk when you’re coming up against a side who are known for their attacking prowess. It’ll be hugely interesting to see how he handles being thrown straight in to a big Test match.
Farrell gets another chance.
Chris Farrell didn’t exactly light the Aviva up last week against Fiji, and will consider himself hugely lucky to have gotten another chance so soon in the wake of Robbie Henshaw’s injury. It doesn’t help that his centre partner Bundee Aki is also playing just his 2nd Test for Ireland. Aki looked good against the Boks, but we have to remember he had Henshaw alongside him who he knows from Connacht. A lot of pressure on the pair this weekend against an exciting Argentina backline.
No Jack McGrath.
It’s fair to say Cian Healy is the form loosehead in the country at the moment, but Schmidt clearly sees something in Dave Kilcoyne to give him another shot. Kilcoyne would have featured last week if fit, so it’s good to see Schmidt making room for him so he can take another look. We all know what McGrath can do, a smart move by Schmidt who is putting more and more stock into building a squad with strength-in-depth.
James Ryan starts.
Similar case here to Kilcoyne, with Ryan missing out last week through injury. Schmidt is going out of his way to make sure everyone in the squad gets a start in November, and it’s wonderful to see. Fringe players need Test caps to improve, and opposition doesn’t come much tougher than the Pumas.
Luke McGrath gets the nod.
Kieran Marmion to be fair hasn’t done much to impress this month, while McGrath has been electric for Leinster. The young nine is playing his club rugby at a higher level with Champions Cup opposition, and looks set to overtake Marmion in the pecking order as back-up to Conor Murray.