5 Talking Points As Exciting Ireland Team Named For Italy Test
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Head coach Joe Schmidt yesterday evening named his Ireland team for this weekend’s return to Soldier Field to take on Six Nations rivals Italy, with the New Zealander opting to go with a relatively inexperienced side.
There’s a rare start at ten for Joey Carbery following his fine form for Munster this season, while Leinster prodigy Jordan Larmour gets his chance at fullback at Test level. Tadhg Beirne has also been named in the starting line-up for the first time, while impressive new Ulster signing Will Addison looks set to make his debut off the bench.
Here are five talking points ahead of the Chicago encounter.
Tadhg Beirne starts.
The former Leinster and Scarlets lock has been in excellent form since returning to Ireland over the summer with Munster. His ability to upset any team at the breakdown, along with his ball-carrying ability could be an excellent asset for Ireland going forward. A lot of people reckon he could usurp Iain Henderson and form a deadly starting second-row partnership alongside James Ryan – tomorrow he’s got his chance to convince Joe Schmidt this should happen.
Carbery at ten.
The former Leinster star has taken his opportunity with Munster with both hands this season, putting in some excellent performances at ten. He’s been a revelation for the southern province, and the missing piece of the puzzle according to most. Joe Schmidt clearly sees him as Johnny Sexton’s deputy, hence why he and the IRFU pushed the move. It will be interesting to see a confident Joey Carbery, who’s been playing ten all season, slot into a green jersey. I for one, reckon it will be seamless.
Will Addison to debut.
The former Sale Sharks man trained with Ireland over the summer on their tour of Australia, with Schmidt clearly seeing something in him. And he was right. The utility back has arguably been Ulster’s best player this season and could very well end up being an important part of Ireland’s plans going forward. England may regret leaving this guy slip out of the net.
One of the biggest talking points in terms of the current set-up is what is Ireland’s best centre partnership. Three does not go into two unfortunately and Bundee Aki, Garry Ringrose and Robbie Henshaw are three very good international centres. Personally I’ve think Aki is the one player that cannot be dropped from the triumvirate, but at the same time you have to take into account the fact that Ringrose and Henshaw play alongside each other almost week in, week out. Aki and Ringrose looked excellent together in the Six Nations, and another good game tomorrow could see Henshaw lose out.
Ireland continue to refuse to rule Conor Murray out of the All Blacks clash, but in reality, he likely won’t be fit in time. That leaves Marmion, Cooney and McGrath to battle it out to become Ireland’s temporary starting nine. My own gut tells me the two men in the squad tomorrow – McGrath and Cooney, are that little bit ahead of Marmion at the moment. So it will be interesting to see how both go tomorrow. Schmidt will likely give both sufficient game time.