The Ireland XV We Want To See Start Against Georgia In The Autumn Nations Cup This Weekend
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Time to experiment?
In a somewhat surprising decision, it was announced yesterday that Ireland have made just one addition to their squad for the Georgia game this weekend with uncapped Ulster prop Jack O’Sullivan getting the call.
Many had hoped to see some more uncapped talent called into the squad as Ireland look to build to the future and France 2023. The men in green certainly have an ageing squad in certain positions, but it appears Andy Farrell is happy with what he has for now.
And we can’t complain too much because it’s not like he’s been afraid to bring in uncapped talent since he took over with the likes of Will Connors, Caelan Doris, James Lowe, Hugo Keenan and Ronan Kelleher.
So what do we expect from the Georgia game this weekend following yet another disappointing defeat to the old enemy? Well a win, and a comfortable one at that, goes without saying. Looking at Georgia in the competition so far that has to be a given.
The Six Nations hopefuls are yet to score in the competition having been beaten 40-0 and 18-0 by England and Wales respectively. And Ireland should be expecting much of the same.
But in saying that, plenty of changes need to be made and some young players will really need to step up and start showing us what they’re really capable of – and that Farrell’s patience will be rewarded in the long-term.
So starting with the front-row, Kelleher certainly needs another game at hooker to build back up his confidence after that England game and I would expect Ireland to start strong in the front-row against a big Georgian pack, renowned for their scrummaging above all else.
In the second-row, some game time for Tadhg Beirne and Ultan Dillane is badly needed in green, with Iain Henderson perhaps on the bench. A rest will do James Ryan no harm.
In the back-row, Will Connors deserves another start at seven as does Caelan Doris at eight. Six is up for discussion, maybe keep Peter O’Mahony in there? The Munster captain is in fine form and could benefit massively from it this season.
In the halfback, Kieran Marmion certainly deserves a start at nine against the Georgians to see what he’s made of once again. Billy Burns’ two cameos against Wales and England have certainly warranted him a start on Sunday. His chip for Stockdale’s try was the best piece of attacking play from Ireland against England last weekend.
In the centre, with Henshaw and Ringrose out, I would perhaps look at a centre partnership of Stuart McCloskey at 12 and Chris Farrell at 13, with Bundee Aki missing out. McCloskey and Farrell have partnered each other in midfield with Ireland in the past, having started the 23-20 win over Fiji back in 2017.
Farrell certainly needs the minutes in a green jersey more than Aki and it’s about time Stuart McCloskey was given another chance with his form at Ulster over the past couple of seasons incredible.
In the back-three, I see no reason to drop James Lowe on the left wing. Keep him in there and get as many minutes under his belt as possible. This guy is going to be a star for Ireland in the years to come, there’s absolutely no doubt.
Shane Daly also needs to play a game, having yet to feature despite being named in the original 34-man squad. A start at fullback for Daly would earn Farrell plaudits with Hugo Keenan perhaps on the right wing to keep his caps ticking over too.
Possible Ireland team vs Georgia
15. Shane Daly
14. Hugo Keenan
13. Chris Farrell
12. Stuart McCloskey
11. James Lowe
10. Billy Burns
9. Kieran Marmion
1. Cian Healy
2. Ronan Kelleher
3. Andrew Porter
4. Tadhg Beirne
5. Ultan Dillane
6. Peter O’Mahony
7. Will Connors
8. Caelan Doris