Ireland squad prediction after latest round of cuts 1 year ago

Ireland squad prediction after latest round of cuts

John Cooney, Mike Haley, Rory Scannell, Finlay Bealham and Ultan Dillane have all been cut from Joe Schmidt's Ireland Rugby World Cup squad.

Schmidt had whittled his training squad down to 40 with just over a month to go before the start of the Rugby World Cup where he'll have to cut it down to a final 31.

The New Zealander will still have to tell nine players that they will not be boarding the plane to Japan but already some of his selections have given us a clearer picture of who he's taking to Japan in certain positions.

For the 2015 World Cup Schmidt brought three hookers, five props, four locks, five backrowers, two scrum-halves, three fly-halves, four centres and five three-quarters.

However, centre Jared Payne was replaced by a scrum-half in Isaac Boss after he picked up an injury against Romania so it's hard to tell if Schmidt will go with three scrum-halves or three centres this time around.

Cooney's dismissal virtually assures that Conor Murray, Luke McGrath and Kieran Marmion will all make the squad if he goes with three.

Bealham's axing means that three of the following four - Andrew Porter, Jack McGrath, David Kilconye and John Ryan - will go with Tadhg Furlong and Cian Healy nailed on certainties barring injury.

Dillane's omission means that there are now just five locks in the squad with James Ryan, Tadhg Beirne, Iain Henderson, Devin Toner and Jean Kleyn all remaining.

Schmidt took four centres in 2015, and maybe he'll take less this time around given that the likes of Keith Earls and Jordan Larmour can both play there, but if he takes four, it still leaves Bundee Aki, Robbie Henshaw, Garry Ringrose, Will Addison and Chris Farrell.

Aki, Henshaw and Ringrose would be his preferred trio, and have been during his time in charge, but you can certainly make strong cases for Farrell and Addison.

Given the strength at the position it was always going to be an uphill battle for Rory Scannell and so it's no great surprise he hasn't been selected here despite another strong showing for Munster last season.

Meanwhile Haley's ejection was also to be somewhat expected given that Schmidt must now choose between Jacob Stockdale, Keith Earls, Rob Kearney, Jordan Larmour, Dave Kearney and Andrew Conway. He took five outside backs the last time, and despite a strong showing against Italy, Dave Kearney would be a long shot to remove one of those from the current squad.

The most flexible positions from Schmidt are in the backs. He'll most likely take three scrum-halves given that there's no Ian Madigan this time around that can cover scrum-half.

Joey Carbery initially entered the Leinster Academy as a scrum-half but has yet to play there in the professional ranks and is currently nursing an ankle injury that will sideline him anywhere from four to six weeks.

Given the uncertainty around Carbery's injury we're going to say that Schmidt will take three scrum-halves and three centres with five outside backs.

Here's who we think will make the final squad with the omissions highlighted in red.

Forwards (22)
Rory Best (Banbridge/Ulster) 117 caps
Tadhg Beirne (Lansdowne/Munster) 6 caps
Jack Conan (Old Belvedere/Leinster) 14 caps
Sean Cronin (St Mary’s College/Leinster) 68 caps
Tadhg Furlong (Clontarf/Leinster) 33 caps
Cian Healy (Clontarf/Leinster) 89 caps
Iain Henderson (Queen’s University/Ulster) 45 caps
Rob Herring (Ballynahinch/Ulster) 8 caps
Dave Kilcoyne (UL Bohemians/Munster) 29 caps
Jean Kleyn (Munster) 1 cap
Jack McGrath (St Mary’s College/Ulster) 55 caps
Jordi Murphy (Lansdowne/Ulster) 28 caps
Tommy O’Donnell (UL Bohemians/Munster) 13 caps
Peter O’Mahony (Cork Constitution/Munster) 57 caps
Andrew Porter (UCD/Leinster) 15 caps
Rhys Ruddock (St Mary’s College/Leinster) 22 caps
James Ryan (UCD/Leinster) 17 caps
John Ryan (Cork Constitution/Munster) 19 caps
Niall Scannell (Dolphin/Munster) 15 caps
CJ Stander (Shannon/Munster) 31 caps
Devin Toner (Lansdowne/Leinster) 65 caps
Josh van der Flier (UCD/Leinster) 17 caps

Backs (18)
Will Addison (Enniskillen/Ulster) 3 caps
Bundee Aki (Galwegians/Connacht) 17 caps
Ross Byrne (UCD/Leinster) 2 caps
Joey Carbery (Clontarf/Munster) 19 caps
Jack Carty (Buccaneers/Connacht) 4 caps
Andrew Conway (Garryowen/Munster) 13 caps
Keith Earls (Young Munster/Munster) 77 caps
Chris Farrell (Young Munster/Munster) 6 caps
Robbie Henshaw (Buccaneers/Leinster) 37 caps
Dave Kearney (Lansdowne/Leinster) 18 caps
Rob Kearney (UCD/Leinster) 90 caps
Jordan Larmour (St Mary’s College/Leinster) 14 caps
Kieran Marmion (Galwegians/Connacht) 26 caps
Luke McGrath (UCD/Leinster) 11 caps
Conor Murray (Garryowen/Munster) 72 caps
Garry Ringrose (UCD/Leinster) 21 caps
Jonathan Sexton (St Marys College/Leinster) 83 caps
Jacob Stockdale (Lurgan/Ulster) 19 caps