5 Talking Points As Ireland Team Named For Third Test With Australia

Series decider.

Head coach Joe Schmidt early this morning named his Ireland team for this weekend’s third and final Test with Australia in their summer series.

The Wallabies came out on top with a nine-point win in the first Test, before Ireland levelled things up this past weekend with a crucial 26-21 victory, leaving it all to play for this Saturday.

Schmidt has continued his trend of mixing things up for each game, making a number of changes once again this weekend, with the likes of Jack Conan, Bundee Aki and Jacob Stockdale coming back in this weekend.

Here are five talking points.

Aki over Ringrose.
Very interesting selection choice here. Unfortunately for Ireland three does not go into two and they have three very good centres and just two slots available for them. Ringrose impressed last week and Henshaw is perhaps better suited to the 12 role. But Bundee Aki is an incredible player and has been superb since his debut back in November. Ireland certainly aren’t weaker with this partnership, but they definitely play a different style as a result of it.

The back-row.
Surprise combination here. Peter O’Mahony hasn’t really played any clubs games at seven this year, never mind Test games. With Dan Leavy out, Schmidt had to make a decision. Stander back at six, where he initially made his name for Ireland, could be an excellent move. Conan meanwhile, will be a man on a mission with his first big chance to start. We could also see Tadhg Beirne come into the back-row at some stage too and Jordi Murphy has been impressive on this tour so far.

Finally… a start for Sean Cronin.
If there’s one thing we’ve learned from this tour, it’s that Ireland has four very good hookers to choose from once skipper Rory Best returns. Cronin’s inclusion in the XV means all three touring hookers will have had a start in Australia. Two have impressed so far in their starts – it’s over to Cronin now, who was arguably the form number two in the country coming into this tour.

Ross Byrne to make his debut.
Joey Carbery was handed a start in the first Test, and given a (strange) cameo last week. Now it’s Ross Byrne’s chance to show what he’s got in a green jersey this weekend. The young playmaker as been given the nod over Carbery at ten at Leinster by Leo Cullen, resulting in him making the move down south to Munster. With both set to be given plenty of game time each next season – it’s going to be a straight out battle to be Johnny Sexton’s understudy. This will be interesting.

Tadhg Beirne on the bench.
The Munster-bound star made his debut last weekend and impressed off the bench. He’s been given the nod of Iain Henderson once again, and could be crucial this weekend. We all know how much of a nuisance he can be at the breakdown. What a player to spring off the bench.

Kearney starts… again.
Rob Kearney hasn’t had a bad tour – let’s be clear. But Schmidt has changed things up pretty much everywhere except for fullback. Even Johnny Sexton and Tadhg Furlong got the chop in the first Test. Fullback is such an important position and Kearney isn’t getting any younger. Also what happens if he picks up an injury? How many minutes does Andrew Conway have at fullback for Ireland? And what about Jordan Larmour? Exactly. It’s the one area Ireland needs to seriously look at.

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