Simon Easterby insists players have to earn Ireland caps

Ireland assistant coach Simon Easterby has defended the management team’s decision to not call up any more players for their game against Georgia.

Easterby, who won 65 caps for Ireland during his playing career, was speaking at a press conference today and insisted that younger players would not just be handed opportunities against weaker opposition.

Ireland have called up the uncapped Ulster loosehead Eric O’Sullivan as injury cover for Ed Byrne, but resisted the temptation to bring more new faces into the squad.

“I guess it’s always a question that gets thrown around but it’s really important that we select the players we originally picked.

“It’s another Test match, there are players that are going well in their provinces and putting their hand up, but there’s also players who have trained really well over the last couple of weeks that haven’t had opportunities with us.

“I guess it’s getting a balance there and the squad we selected originally was a squad we felt could take us through the end of the Six Nations and into these autumn games.

“We felt we wanted to do that justice and probably not look to pick too much from outside the group,” Easterby explained.

Finding the right balance

The former Scarlets flanker felt that throwing players such as Harry Byrne and Craig Casey into an international test match wouldn’t be fair after such little time with the squad.

“Players coming in for a week, they have got a lot to deal with and take on board. Is it giving them the best opportunity to perform if we’re asking them to come in six or seven days before a Test match?

“It’s getting balance and we just felt like the guys who we selected in the original wider squad were guys that we were looking to play in this Georgia game.

“There will be some experience in the team as well as some inexperience for the weekend.

“We don’t want to just be handing out caps as well, we want to make sure that guys earn the right to get selected,” Easterby said.

While Ireland are not expected to name a full-strength match-day squad for the Georgia test, there is likely to be a number of experienced faces in the starting 15.

After only amassing a total of seven points against the English, Easterby and head coach Andy Farrell will be hoping to run up a big scoreline at the Aviva Stadium on Sunday.

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