This week Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt announced his team to face John Mckee’s Fiji in the Aviva Stadium on Saturday.
During the announcement in Carton House, there was one aspect that stood out more than the rest: Ireland’s centre combination.
This weekend, Ireland will unleash potentially the biggest centre pairing in world rugby in Stuart McCloskey, who is 191cm in height and weighs in at 109kg and Chris Farrell who weighs 110kg and is 193cm tall. That’s a combined weight of 219kg and and height of 12ft 7in.
Although not necessarily Ireland’s first choice combination, the Ulsterman and Munsterman pose a sizeable threat.
Many teams in world rugby possess a physical option in either centre position, however, it is rare for both players to be so physically imposing.
Here we compare Ireland’s sizeable combination against the other nations’ centres who are competing this weekend.
Sonny Bill Williams
The current world champions face Scotland this weekend and have selected Sonny Billy Williams and Ryan Crotty to do the damage at Murrayfield.
While Steve Hansen has allowed time for these two players to gel and acclimatise, forming a frighteningly solid combination, they fail to compare in sheer size to Ireland’s newest pairing.
Guy Noves has seen fit to recall the Toulon bulldozer to the national team and has paired him with La Rochelle’s Doumayrou.
Although Bastareaud may be one of the most physically imposing centres in the world, Doumayrou, although solid, fails to bring the physical stature to overtake Ireland’s two chimneys.
One of Australia’s problems recently has been managing to put their best players on the pitch in the best combinations. With Kurtley Beale moving to fullback in Israel Folau’s absence, Kerevi and Kuridrani are free to take control of the centre stage.
They combine to make one of world rugby’s more imposing centre combinations. Physically dominating at Super Rugby level, Michael Cheika will hope the confidence each player gets from knowing the solidity that lies inside/outside him allows the two to produce their more subtle skills internationally.
Combined Weight & Height:
1. Ireland: Farrell/McCloskey : 219kg, 384cm
2. Australia: Kuridrani/Kerevi: 207kg, 377cm
3. France: Bastareaud/Doumayrou: 212kg, 371cm
4. New Zealand: Crotty/Williamson: 199kg, 373cm
With New Zealand lying fourth out of the provided examples, they prove size doesn’t matter.
However, Ireland are set to use McCloskey and Farrell in tandem on Saturday at the Aviva and I, for one, am excited to see the two combine against Fiji.