13 changes have been made to the Irish side when they come up against Fiji on Saturday afternoon. Ireland will be more than happy with their performance last week as they demolished South Africa and hope to inflict as much damage to Fiji.
Joe Schmidt has named an experimental side as he hopes to give as many players some international test experience in this November series. While it may be an unexperienced side Ireland are still expected to get the job done in the Aviva on Saturday as they hope to complete the series unbeaten.
However the boys in green face perhaps their greatest test when they welcome Argentina the following week. Despite being beaten comfortably by England last week Ireland will be wary of the problems that Argentina may pose. Ireland will be looking for some sort of redemption as it was Argentina who crushed Irelands World Cup dreams in the 2015 World Cup.
Until then those who play on Saturday will hope to give Joe Schmidt a selection headache and try force their way into the starting XV. Munster man Chris Farrell makes his first ever appearance for Ireland, partnering Stuart McCloskey at centre who earns his second cap.
Both men stand at around 6’4” and weigh about 110kg so Joe Schmidt will be hoping to use their power to break the Fijian defence.
Munster’s Andrew Conway is one of the few to retain his place in the team after an impressive performance against the Springboks last week but he moves from the wing to fullback at Rob Kearneys expense.
Robs brother, Dave Kearney will relish his chance on the wing as he returns to the national side after being hindered with injuries over the past few seasons. Fellow Leinster man Joe Carberry replaces his club teammate Johnny Sexton to play at out half.
Carberry usually plays at fullback so it’s clear that Schmidt wants to expand his options at number 10 should Sexton ever be injured. He is partnered at the half back line with Connacht’s Kieran Marmion playing the scrum half role. Marmion has proven himself to be more than capable of dictating play in Conor Murrays absent so he will be hoping to see if he can dislodge Munster’s scrum half from the starting XV with a strong performance.
Darren Sweetnam makes his first start for Ireland after making his debut when he came off the bench against South Africa last weekend. Sweetnam is another player who will be hoping win the favour of Joe Schmidt as the wings are very much an area for contention amongst the Irish backs.
Ryhs Ruddock will regain the captaincy after doing a fine job in the USA and Japan over the summer when he captained Ireland to an unbeaten summer series. Jordi Murphy comes into the side at flanker following an impressive performance when he lined out for the Barbarians last weekend. Jack Conan moves in at number eight to make up an all Leinster backrow.
Devin Toner along with Conway are the only two players to retain their place in the side as he is joined by Connacht’s Ultan Dillane who replaces Ian Henderson.
Schmidt named an experimental front row with Andrew Porter and Rob Herring making their first start for Ireland in prop and hooker respectively. Porter is a highly rated loosehead after he had an impressive Junior World Cup in 2016 when Ireland reached the final. They are joined in the front row by the sides most experienced player by Jack McGrath who will earn his 42nd cap.
A blend of youth and experience should be enough for Ireland to triumph over Fiji on Saturday as Joe Schmidt continues to build for the future. By giving himself so many options he will be hoping to reign successful in next year’s Six Nations as Ireland hope to win the tournament for the third time in five years.
More importantly though he is building towards the 2019 World Cup in Japan. Ireland had one of the best starting XV’s at the previous World Cup but a number of injuries to key players meant that Ireland didn’t have the squad depth to go further in the competition. Schmidt acknowledged that problem and hass been gradually working to rectify this mistake ever since as Ireland boast a wealth of options in almost every position.
Ireland face Fiji at 5:30pm on Saturday at the Aviva stadium. The game will also be broadcast on RTE 2.
- Andrew Conway (Garryowen/Munster) 4 caps
- Darren Sweetnam (Cork Constitution/Munster) 1 cap
- Chris Farrell (Young Munster/Munster) 0 cap
- Stuart McCloskey (Bangor/UIster) 1 cap
- Dave Kearney (Lansdowne/Leinster) 16 caps
- Joey Carbery (Clontarf/Leinster) 5 caps
- Kieran Marmion (Corinthians/Connacht) 17 caps
- Jack McGrath (St Mary’s College/Leinster) 41 caps
- Rob Herring (Ballynahinch/Ulster) 2 caps
- Andrew Porter (UCD/Leinster) 2 caps
- Ultan Dillane (Corinthians/Connacht) 10 caps
- Devin Toner (Lansdowne/Leinster) 51 caps
- Rhys Ruddock (St Mary’s College/Leinster) 17 caps Captain
- Jordi Murphy (Lansdowne/Leinster) 17 caps
- Jack Conan (Old Belvedere/Leinster) 4 caps
- James Tracy (UCD/Leinster) 4 caps
- Cian Healy (Clontarf/Leinster) 71 caps
- Tadhg Furlong (Clontarf/Leinster) 17 caps
- Kieran Treadwell (Ballymena/Ulster) 2 caps
- CJ Stander (Shannon/Munster) 16 caps
- Luke McGrath (UCD/Leinster) 4 caps
- Ian Keatley (Young Munster/Munster) 5 caps
- Robbie Henshaw (Buccaneers/Leinster) 30 caps