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An Experimental Ireland XV To Take On Italy This Weekend


After what felt like a painfully long summer, Ireland will finally be back on the rugby pitch this weekend as they host Italy at the Aviva Stadium in their first warm-up game ahead of the 2019 Rugby World Cup. 

This will be the first of four warm-up games as Ireland will also take on England (August 24) and Wales (August 31 & September 7) twice before travelling to Japan.

There are a number of boxes to tick throughout these warm-up fixtures:

– Develop individual match sharpness

– Develop and harness the gameplan which will be utilised in Japan

– Generate confidence after a disappointing Six Nations

The obvious and pressing matter, however, is to give players, especially those on the fringes, an opportunity to impress and put their hand up ahead of the final squad selection.

Today, we have already seen two players have their dreams of representing Ireland at the World Cup dashed as it was confirmed Rory Scannell and Ultan Dillane have been released back to Munster and Connacht, respectively.

The Aviva Stadium clash against Italy this weekend provides the first opportunity for Joe Schmidt to see those he’s unsure about in action.

The Kiwi head coach will be keen to focus his mind on the 31 players he will be bringing to Japan so we expect that the starting XV for the match with Conor O’Shea’s side will include a number of those on the fringes.

However, we also expect to see some of the more experienced heads included as Ireland will be keen to put in a good performance and generate some much-needed momentum before the depart for Japan.

With that in mind, here is our starting XV we think could take to the field against Italy:

15. Mike Haley

14. Andrew Conway

13. Will Addison

12. Robbie Henshaw

11. Dave Kearney

10. Jack Carty

9. Kieran Marmion

1. Dave Kilcoyne

2. Niall Scannell

3. Tadhg Furlong

4. Tadhg Beirne

5. Jean Kleyn

6. Rhys Ruddock

7. Tommy O’Donnell

8. Jack Conan

Other players on the fringes, including Ross Byrne, Finlay Bealham, Rob Herring, Jack McGrath and John Cooney, will also be desperate for some game time so it wouldn’t be surprising to see these players included at some point.


Ireland’s Current 43-Man Training Squad

Forwards (23)

Finlay Bealham (Buccaneers/Connacht) 9 caps
Rory Best (Banbridge/Ulster) 117 caps
Tadhg Beirne (Lansdowne/Munster) 5 caps
Jack Conan (Old Belvedere/Leinster) 14 caps
Sean Cronin (St Mary’s College/Leinster) 68 caps
Tadhg Furlong (Clontarf/Leinster) 33 caps
Cian Healy (Clontarf/Leinster) 88 caps
Iain Henderson (Queens University/Ulster) 44 caps
Rob Herring (Ballynahinch/Ulster) 7 caps
Dave Kilcoyne (UL Bohemians/Munster) 29 caps
Jean Kleyn (Munster) 0 caps
Jack McGrath (St Marys College/Leinster) 54 caps
Jordi Murphy (Lansdowne/Ulster) 27 caps
Tommy O’Donnell (UL Bohemians/Munster) 12 caps
Peter O’Mahony (Cork Constitution/Munster) 57 caps
Andrew Porter (UCD/Leinster) 14 caps
Rhys Ruddock (Lansdowne/Leinster) 21 caps
James Ryan (UCD/Leinster) 17 caps
John Ryan (Cork Constitution/Munster) 18 caps
Niall Scannell (Dolphin/Munster) 14 caps
CJ Stander (Shannon/Munster) 31 caps
Devin Toner (Lansdowne/Leinster) 64 caps
Josh van der Flier (UCD/Leinster) 17 caps

Backs (20)

Will Addison (Enniskillen/Ulster) 3 caps
Bundee Aki (Galwegians/Connacht) 17 caps
Ross Byrne (UCD/Leinster) 2 caps
Joey Carbery (Clontarf/Munster) 18 caps
Jack Carty (Buccaneers/Connacht) 3 caps
Andrew Conway (Garryowen/Munster) 12 caps
John Cooney (Terenure College/Ulster) 8 caps
Keith Earls (Young Munster/Munster) 77 caps
Chris Farrell (Young Munster/Munster) 5 caps
Mike Haley (Munster) 0 caps
Robbie Henshaw (Buccaneers/Leinster) 37 caps
Dave Kearney (Lansdowne/Leinster) 17 caps
Rob Kearney (UCD/Leinster) 90 caps
Jordan Larmour (St Mary’s College/Leinster) 13 caps
Kieran Marmion (Galwegians/Connacht) 25 caps
Luke McGrath (UCD/Leinster) 10 caps
Conor Murray (Garryowen/Munster) 72 caps
Garry Ringrose (UCD/Leinster) 20 caps
Jonathan Sexton (St Marys College/Leinster) 83 caps
Jacob Stockdale (Lurgan/Ulster) 19 caps

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Author: Sean McMahon

Sean is Deputy Editor and head rugby writer. You can contact him by email [email protected] or on Twitter