Ireland are likely to rest many of their star names after beating the All Blacks.
While Ireland celebrated their historic victory over New Zealand last weekend, Steve Hansen and his players were no doubt planning their revenge in Dublin on Saturday week.
Although the Italians may take some of the edge off the expected All Black backlash, Hansen’s side will arrive into the Aviva Stadium with a plan to negate Ireland’s maul, and more importantly a second row combination that does not include Jerome Kaino.
Therefore, while Ireland’s focus will be on preparing for Canada this weekend, they will also have one eye on events in Rome, where New Zealand’s selection and tactics will be watched with interest.
However, although Hansen will be wanting his side to make a statement, Joe Schmidt has the luxury of being able to rest some of his key players before the highly anticipated re-match in Dublin.
Not only does it give Schmidt the chance to offer his players with some well deserved down time, but also showcase the depth of talent now at his disposal. In the backrow for example, the Irish coach is likely to select Sean O’Brien and Peter O’Mahony, two world class players in their own right.
Their omission for the game in Chicago raised eyebrows, but both players now face a struggle to dislodge Josh van der Flier and CJ Stander in Ireland’s backrow.
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After years worrying over the lack of depth behind Mike Ross, it’s likely Finlay Bealam will be handed the number three jersey with the in-form John Ryan on the bench. Cian Healy, a 2013 British and Irish Lion don’t forget, should start at loosehead, with Sean Cronin coming in at hooker.
Billy Holland could potentially partner Ultan Dillane in the second row, and there even exists the possibility of Iain Henderson making his comeback on Saturday. Dan Leavy’s inclusion in the Irish squad could see the 22 year-old feature as a flanker with either O’Brien or O’Mahony starting at number eight.
Alternatively, Schmidt could chose to hand Jack O’Donoghue a start at number eight, leaving O’Brien and O’Mahony either side of the youngster.
Despite Joey Carbery’s impressive debut, Paddy Jackson’s case for inclusion is greater and he requires game time in green in case Ireland will need to call on him later in the November series. Kieran Marmion is the leading candidate to start at scrumhalf, allowing Conor Murray time to rest after enjoying what was arguably his best ever game with either Ireland or Munster.
It is at centre where Schmidt faces his biggest selection headache, with Stuart Olding, Luke Marshall and Gary Ringrose all available. Just to further accentuate the amount of depth at Schmidt’s disposal, the Irish coach has the luxury of leaving Rory Scannell and Stuart McCloskey out.
Finally, every Irish fan would be excited at the prospect of watching a back three made up of Tiernan O’Halloran, Niyi Adeolokun and Darren Sweetnam take to the field against Canada. If Schmidt feels the need to add experience, he can call upon Keith Earls and Craig Gilroy, while simultaneously leaving Tommy Bowe out of the equation altogether.
Irish rugby has never enjoyed such luxury in the past.
[tie_slide]1. Cian Healy
[tie_slide]2. Sean Cronin
[tie_slide]3. Finlay Bealham
[tie_slide]4. Ultan Dillane
[tie_slide]5. Billy Holland
[tie_slide]6. Peter O’Mahony
[tie_slide]7. Dan Leavy
[tie_slide]8. Sean O’Brien
[tie_slide]9. Kieran Marmion
[tie_slide]10. Paddy Jackson
[tie_slide]11. Niyi Adeolokun
[tie_slide]12. Luke Marshall
[tie_slide]13. Gary Ringrose
[tie_slide]14. Darren Sweetnam
[tie_slide]15. Tiernan O’Halloran
Alan Drumm, Pundit Arena
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Read More About: All Blacks, Billy Holland, cian healy, Dan Leavy, Darren Sweetnam, finlay bealham, Gary Ringrose, ireland rugby, Joe Schmidt, kieran marmion, luke marshall, new zealand, Niyi Adeolokun, Paddy Jackson, peter o'mahony, sean cronin, sean o'brien, Tiernan O'Halloran, Ultan Dillane