Previewing Ireland Vs Argentina & Picking A Squad To Do A Job On The Pumas

Tony McBride

Tony McBride

Tony is a PE and English teacher who hails from County Donegal and believes that the will to win is often the greatest asset a team can have.
Tony McBride

Ireland stand on the verge of completing a significant feat this weekend.

Should they defeat Argentina on Saturday evening, it will mean they will have come full circle, and defeated every Tier 1 nation since their World Cup defeat to the Pumas in 2015 (with the exception of a draw with Wales). Their World Cup woes at the hands of the Pumas has become a popular point of reference this week with many claiming this to be a revenge mission for Ireland. This is simply not the case for Joe Schmidt and his troops.

That was 2 years ago and that day, Ireland were beaten fair and square and their so called strength-in-depth was exposed right down to its extremely shallow core. Nobody could argue with the manner in which Argentina became victorious that day. Fast forward two years though, and Argentina find themselves facing a much tougher prospect.

When Ireland took on the Pumas on the fateful day in 2015, they went in to the game missing the likes of Paul O’Connell, Peter O’Mahony, Sean O’Brien and Jonny Sexton. This time around they will face Ireland at full strength. At the peak of their powers, the recently christened “All Blacks of Europe” are an almost untouchable side of late.

Those who were part of the victory over South Africa at the beginning of the month can expect to gain their place back, while those of the 13 changed players who put their hands up for selection during the Fiji game will most likely be happy with a place on the bench. If I were selecting the team though, this is how it would look for the Argentina game.

  1. Cian Healy (has been simply outstanding this November and has claimed back the number 1 jersey)
  2. Rory Best (did enough against South Africa to warrant a recall this weekend)
  3. Tadgh Furlong (the best tighthead available by a long way)
  4. Devin Toner (if you sit far enough away from the tv, he looks a bit like Paul O’Connell)
  5. Iain Henderson (freakishly strong and explosive and a vital cog in the engine that is Irelands pack)
  6. CJ Stander (starting to find his rhythm once again and well deserving of the cameo as captain against Fiji. Moves to 6 to accommodate a change at 8)
  7. Sean O’Brien (rightful owner of the number 7 jersey)
  8. Jack Conan (deserves another test after his display against Fiji and his heroics on the Summer Tour. Huge potential)
  9. Conor Murray (no explanation needed)
  10. Jonny Sexton (see above)
  11. Jacob Stockdale (his performance against South Africa was solid but this is a gem that is yet to be truly unearthed on the international stage. Another with huge potential)
  12. Robbie Henshaw (the feeling is that when he is fit, he will always be a first team player for Ireland. Has the skills to play at outside centre but his future lays in the 12 channel to accommodate Ringrose and Aki in that order.)
  13. Bundee Aki (will continue to fill the 13 jersey until Gary Ringrose returns)
  14. Darren Sweetnam (one who has proven with little opportunity that he can offer something different on the right flank. Needs to get himself more involved if he is to make an impression)
  15. Andrew Conway (the standout performer from the autumn series and one who will continue to flourish when given the opportunity. Looked comfortable at fullback and posed a bigger attacking threat than both Kearney brothers combined)

The injury to Carbery was desperately unfortunate for him but a timely reminder of how quickly our strength in depth can be put to the test. It would have been so great to see how Carberry would have closed out the game against Fiji when it hung in the balance but it was equally encouraging to see Ian Keatley come on and see out the game in dominant fashion.

The bookies are offering a handicap of 14 points in Irelands favour for Saturday and truth be told, that’s a true reflection of what this game represents. Ireland were good in parts against South Africa but the score line ultimately flattered them. They failed to dominate the game throughout as Ireland often do but Saturday will be different. The energy generated from the win over Fiji by the younger members of the squad will push Ireland on to greater things. Argentina’s tour of the Northern hemisphere has been a mixed bag, much like their season and Saturday will bring down the curtain on a long year for them. With that in mind, one wonders just how much fight they have left in the tank for this Irish side.

Mystic McBride Prediction: Ireland (-14) and Stockdale or Conway to cross the whitewash first this week.

Follow Me