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21st May 2018

Four uncapped players predicted for Ireland’s summer tour to Australia

Patrick McCarry

“I’m either off to Thailand next week or I’ll be on that tour.”

Ulster scrum-half John Cooney is a glass completely full type of guy.

After helping his team to clinch Champions Cup rugby for next season, the Dubliner reflected that he would either be in Ireland’s squad to tour Australia or resting up on a beach in the Far East. Either way you shake it, it is a win-win.

Joe Schmidt names his Ireland squad midweek and he is expected to include a couple of new faces for the three-Test trip Down Under.

That squad, and Cooney’s chances of making it to Oz, were discussed by James Downey and Bernard Jackman on The Hard Yards [from 55:00 below].

“Bringing four scrum-halves would probably be a waste,” Downey commented.

“If they were going to do something, it could be to switch up Kieran Marmion [leave him out] and bring Cooney in. Cooney has been, hands down, player of the season up at Ulster. If you’re going to go on form, you have to pick him and bring him to Australia.

“He thoroughly deserves it so why would you not bring him?”

Jackman agrees that Cooney has had a fine season but he can also understand why he only has one Test cap to date.

“If you look at what Marmion gives you, it’s that threat around the breakdown. Marmion delivers more impact off the bench and Luke McGrath is more of a sniper as well.

“There is an argument that if Conor Murray is out, you could bring Cooney in to start rather than having him on the bench. Luke and Kieran are different options, in terms of their profile, to come off the bench whereas Cooney is probably more of a starting 9. If you are going to bring him on tour, you’ll have to drop one of those boys and that is a big ask. Luke has had a few niggles near the end of the season.”

In terms of the rest of the squad, Scarlets lock/blindside Tadhg Beirne is locked in as a squad inclusion while Munster centre Sam Arnold will be pressing for a seat on the plane.

“Tadhg Beirne has got Scarlets’ player of the season, players’ player of the season and try of the season in their end of year awards,” noted Jackman. “He has been phenomenal.

“You would like to think that the fact that he has signed for Munster and is available for the summer that he would be included… He gives you that Scott Fardy versatility in terms of playing lock or blindside and he is quality.”

The other uncapped player we are expecting to see included in a squad expected to be 33 or 34-strong is Leinster outhalf Ross Byrne while his provincial teammate Barry Daly is our outside shout.

Ireland’s senior stars are not keen to take an early vacation so most of them will be travelling to take on the Wallabies.


Rob Kearney, Andrew Conway

Keith Earls, Jordan Larmour, Jacob Stockdale, Barry Daly*

Garry Ringrose, Bundee Aki, Sam Arnold*, Robbie Henshaw

Johnny Sexton, Joey Carbery, Ross Byrne*

Conor Murray, Kieran Marmion, John Cooney

Cian Healy, Jack McGrath, Dave Kilcoyne, Andrew Porter, Tadhg Furlong, John Ryan

Rory Best (captain), James Tracy, Sean Cronin

Devin Toner, James Ryan, Tadhg Beirne*, Iain Henderson/Ultan Dillane

Peter O’Mahony, Dan Leavy, CJ Stander, Rhys Ruddock, Jordi Murphy, Jack Conan