Are Stuart McCloskey and Josh van der Flier ready to do damage? Just ask their captain 7 years ago

Are Stuart McCloskey and Josh van der Flier ready to do damage? Just ask their captain

On Saturday afternoon, Josh van der Flier and Stuart McCloskey make their Ireland debuts. Ultan Dillane, he hopes, won't be far behind.

This is the first competitive game in 16 years where Ireland could give more than two debuts. The last game was the 40-22 win over Scotland in 2000 that was the opening chapter for a generation we christened 'golden'.


Are the Leinster flanker and Ulster centre ready to do some damage? We asked those in the know.

Rory Best

"[Opponents] do not know how they will react in a Test arena. We know their character and we know, by and large, what to expect of them. Until they get onto that pitch, though, we don't know what to expect. That does bring a bit of the unknown.

"... As far as I'm concerned, they are two quality guys and two quality players. The same goes for Ultan coming off the bench. Youth is coming through now and that is great.


"The likes of Josh, Ultan and Stu, they can be wearing an Ireland jersey for the next 10, 12 years if they put their hands up and grab it. That is their challenge."

Joe Schmidt


(On McCloskey): "Stuart has some impressive elements to his game that we want to get the most from.

"For him, again, we want him to express himself but he has a responsibility to be as watertight as we can be in what will be a tough area to defend in some of the wing plays they play coming through there and also with Owen Farrell and Jonathan Joseph testing him in those defensive channels."

Josh van der Flier and Rory Best 9/2/2016

(On van der Flier): "Josh has been a player who has impressed right through the season,” Schmidt said. “He gets an opportunity and a huge responsibility to go out and capture that seven jersey in what will be a really tough test for him."

Andrew Trimble (on McCloskey)


Stuart McCloskey 25/2/2016

"He steps up to whatever challenege  is in front of him, whatever physicality and I think he relishes that. it's a big opportunity  for him to impose himself physically and just expand. Joe spoke about one or two areas he's working on as well.

"He's not the full package, not yet. He's working on his passing game, his defence. He'll be under pressure in defence this weekend.

"It's something we're excited about, physicality and gainlines that will hopefully give our pack a bit of a break. We're going to be up against it, but those guys are up to it."

Mike Ross (on van der Flier)


"Josh van der Chopper!

"He's pretty quiet off the pitch. He wouldn't be too much of a talker, but he certainly lets his actions do his talking.

"When he wants, I imagine as time goes on, he might start opening his mouth more.

"We've got so much competition in the Leinster back row first and foremost, the fact he's come through that will really stand to him."