An exciting, new-look Ireland team to face Scotland
"Sounds like more of a team-talk than a selection. Just get on with the team!"
The 2020 Guinness Six Nations was officially launched in London on Wednesday and new Ireland head coach Andy Farrell says his team 'are in a great place'. For the Irish rugby supporters that watched their side get flaked out of the World Cup by a rampant New Zealand side, many will take a wait and see approach to the upcoming championship.
Farrell has stated that his squad has been selected on form and his belated call-up for Stuart McCloskey tallies with that claim. The Ulster centre has been rewarded for a fine season with his province, as have the likes of Caelan Doris, Max Deegan, Ultan Dillane, John Cooney, Jack O'Donoghue and Billy Burns.
With Farrell's 37-man squad and captain, Johnny Sexton, confirmed, the make-up of his first 23-man panel comes into focus. Ireland kick off their Six Nations campaign against Scotland on February 1 and their starting XV could well have a few changes from the one that started against the All Blacks last October.
On the latest episode of Baz & Andrew's House of Rugby, Barry Murphy and Andrew Trimble were tasked with selecting their Irish match-day squads for the opening round of Six Nations action.
"I heard someone talk about how the 23 is a big part of this championship," says Murphy.
"The eight subs are going to be a huge part of this Six Nations team. I suppose it's something we don't really focus on a huge amount, when it comes to the Irish team, is how important the bench could be. So, I've gone in with that frame of mind, basically."
Murphy and Trimble then selected their starting XVs and benches, with Jerry Flannery there to offer his take on matters. McCloskey's late call-up saw both men bump players (Robbie Henshaw for Murphy and Chris Farrell for Trimble) from their initial XVs.
BARRY MURPHY: I've gone with a front row of Dave Kilcoyne, Ronan Kelleher and Tadhg Furlong. I've gone with Dev Toner, James Ryan in the second row. I've gone with Iain Henderson at 6, I've gone with Doris at 8 and I've gone Josh van der Flier at 7.
I've Cian Healy, Rob Herring and Andrew Porter to come off the bench at 50 minutes and destroy everyone with Pete O'Mahony and CJ Stander to come off the bench in the second half, with Hendy moving to the second row, probably take Dev off and then let Pete and CJ just run... I mean, the idea of just having the two of them off the bench. I mean, f***. Imagine when you're tired and then facing those lads.
I've gone with John Cooney and Johnny Sexton, 9, 10. McCloskey and Garry Ringrose in the centre. Back three of Jacob Stockdale, Keith Earls and Will Addison. Conor Murray to come on for Cooney. Ross Byrne on the bench, potentially to come on for Sexton if needs be, and then Andrew Conway. Conway and Earlsy was a tough one. Conway is playing brilliant, but I would love to see Will Addison play with Earlsy and see how much space he could create for him.
ANDREW TRIMBLE: Your front row on the bench is my front row that starts (Healy, Herring, Porter) And I've got James Ryan and Hendy in the row. I've got Pete at 6, Josh at 7 and Max Deegan at 8. Deegan. Cooney at 9, Sexton at 10. Jacob on the left. I've gone for McCloskey and Ringrose in the centre and I've gone for Larmour on the right wing and Addison at 15.
While Max Deegan is the only uncapped player in his starting Ireland XV, he would also include Ronan Kelleher on his bench and possibly Doris too.
Flannery approved of both lads having Addison at fullback and the deciding factor on his call was disagreeing with Iain Henderson at blindside. Flannery would prefer the Ulster captain in the second row and, for that reason, he sided with Trimble's 23.
Your move, Andy Farrell.
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Barry Murphy and Andrew Trimble are joined in the House of Rugby studio by Jerry Flannery as they look ahead to the 2020 Guinness Six Nations, pick an Ireland rugby XV for Scotland and discuss Saracens' relegation after further salary cap breaches.