Billy Holland backing six players to join Munster's World Cup certainties in France
What Munster players can cause Andy Farrell further selection headaches?
All eyes will be on Murrayfield this weekend as Andy Farrell's Grand Slam chasing Ireland side travel to Edinburgh to face a resurgent Scotland team. Billy Holland will be eagerly tuning in, like the rest of us.
However, quietly bubbling under the radar over the course of this Six Nations period has been the impeccable form of Munster.
The southern province have strung together an impressive five consecutive league wins in the URC, averaging 39 points per game in the process.
Having also qualified for the Champions Cup knockout rounds, Graham Rowntree's side look to have put to rest their early season wobble which saw them lose five of their opening seven games in domestic competition.
This revival of sorts will be welcome news amongst the Irish coaching staff, who will be keen to see as many provincial players as possible play themselves into form ahead of this summer's World Cup squad selection.
Already possessing a squad full to the brim with playing talent, head coach Andy Farrell may be caused a few more selection headaches in the lead up to the tournament, especially if Munster continue in this rich vain of form.
Billy Holland on Munster stars in RWC contention
Speaking ahead of next week's Munster Schools Cup Final, former Munster and Ireland second row Billy Holland offered his thoughts as to who could potentially force their way into the Irish set-up.
The certainties from Munster look to be Peter O'Mahony, Tadhg Beirne and Conor Murray, with Dave Kilcoyne also in the mix. Billy Holland added one Munster veteran as a "nailed-on" choice while naming another five that have a chance.
"Joey Carbery and Jack Crowley could be there. I'd love to see Gavin Coombes too. He can fill in in the second row and I'd love to see him go. I think he'd add real value to an Irish squad", the former Heineken Cup winner said.
Coombes is a player who has enjoyed a terrific run of form this season, making 15 appearances in all competitions whilst scoring 12 tries in the process, as he looks to add to his previous two international caps.
"It's so hard to know, it's so hard to pick (potential bolters)", added Holland, given the array of depth across almost every area of the field for Ireland at present.
Also highlighting the potential of both Shane Daly and Calvin Nash to compete on the international stage, the former Munster captain said that "They have the ability to play at a World Cup level without a shadow of doubt in my opinion, but it's going to be difficult for them to get into that Irish squad due to time constraints and what's there ahead of them".
The experience and nous of the likes of Keith Earls was another signalled by Holland as a possible World Cup inclusion for Andy Farrell.
"He has a world of experience. He still has it in abundance at that level from a performance point of view and is just a really important guy for the squad", said Holland on his former Munster teammate.
With the 35-year-old winger just two caps shy from joining the illustrious centurions' club, Billy Holland added, "Keith Earls has got to be a nailed-on guy for the plane, he's the type of person you want in your squad".
Munster only play once more in the league - at home to Glasgow - prior to their season-defining trip to South Africa to face the Sharks in the Champions Cup.
Securing what would be a customary famous European scalp and embarking on yet another European run could be just the setting required for these Munster bolters to prove their worth to Andy Farrell, as the World Cup begins to edge closer and closer upon the culmination of the Six Nations.
*Former Presentation Brothers College and Munster player Alex Kendellen and former Christian Brothers College student and Munster player Billy Holland were at Musgrave Park on March 9 to help preview the 2022/23 Pinergy Munster Schools Senior Cup Final.
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