Picking Ireland’s 31-Man Rugby World Cup Squad As Things Stand
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Ireland 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 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.
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.
Rory Best (captain)
This could change in the next few months with guys like Rob Herring and James Tracy banging on the door.
Ireland look fairly setting 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.
Josh van Der Flier
Big call here but as things stand there’s a strong chance Sean O’Brien won’t travel. O’Mahony, Stander and Leavy are guaranteed with Conan and VDF poised to make the trip also.
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.
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.
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):
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:
Ireland’s warm-up fixtures:
IRELAND v Italy
Saturday 10th August, 2019
England v IRELAND
Saturday 24th August, 2019
Wales v IRELAND
Saturday 31st August, 2019
IRELAND v Wales
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