Ireland's form XV heading into our World Cup selection 1 month ago

Ireland's form XV heading into our World Cup selection

If we don't hear the words 'front loading' or 'muscle soreness' for the rest of 2019, we'll be just fine with that.

Three out of the four World Cup warm-up games are out of the way and here are the players that have taken significant knocks:

  • Joey Carbery (ankle)
  • Cian Healy (ankle)
  • Conor Murray (head)

Carbery

Rob Herring's back spasm, which restricted him to 17 minutes against Italy, all but ended his World Cup hopes. Conversely, Johnny Sexton, Robbie Henshaw and Keith Earls played a combined '0' minutes and yet all three should comfortably make Ireland's 31-man squad.

It is hard to place a firm finger on the form of many in the Irish squad, especially in a World Cup context. Many of the players that look in good form are the ones that featured against Italy and, this weekend, against a Wales side lacking in several frontline stars. The ones the nation is fretting over are those that took part in the Twickenham thwacking.

Still, after three games and with one more to go against Wales, here are the Top 5 players from the warm-up series so far:

  1. Andrew Conway (3 appearances)
  2. Dave Kilcoyne (2 appearances)
  3. James Ryan (1 appearance)
  4. Iain Henderson (2 appearances)
  5. Kieran Marmion (2 appearances)

John Ryan, Andrew Porter and Will Addison are not far behind while there was redemption for Jacob Stockdale, Peter O'Mahony, Bundee Aki and, off the bench, Rory Best in the 22-17 win over Wales.

Right now, if you were asked to pick an Ireland XV to face Scotland, based on fitness and form, this would be our best offering:

Ireland's form XV

1. Dave Kilcoyne (Munster)
2. Niall Scannell (Munster)
3. John Ryan (Munster)

4. Iain Henderson (Ulster)
5. James Ryan (Leinster)

6. Tadhg Beirne (Munster)
7. Peter O'Mahony (Munster)
8. Jack Conan (Leinster)

9. Kieran Marmion (Connacht)
10. Jack Carty (Connacht)

11. Jacob Stockdale (Ulster)
12. Bundee Aki (Connacht)
13. Chris Farrell (Munster)
14. Andrew Conway (Munster)

15. Will Addison (Ulster)

You will notice the absence of many big names from that 15. That is because, either due to a lack of game-time or less than stellar performances, many of the senior stars have yet to play themselves into form.

Next Saturday's game against Wales should give us an idea of the starting XV Joe Schmidt is intending to start against Scotland on September 22. It will not be exact to the team that take to the field in the World Cup opener but it will not be far off.

The team below is the one we feel Schmidt will be aiming to start against the Scots. England's breakdown dominance, last weekend, appears to have convinced him Peter O'Mahony is best suited to do the sort of work he wants his openside doing.

Highlighted are the players that need a good game against Wales to secure their starting spot in that crucial clash with Scotland.

Predicted Ireland XV

1. Cian Healy (Leinster)
2. Rory Best (Ulster)
3. Tadhg Furlong (Leinster)

4. Iain Henderson (Ulster)
5. James Ryan (Leinster)

6. CJ Stander (Munster)
7. Peter O'Mahony (Munster)
8. Jack Conan (Leinster)

9. Conor Murray (Munster)
10. Johnny Sexton (Leinster)

11. Jacob Stockdale (Ulster)
12. Bundee Aki (Connacht)
13. Robbie Henshaw (Leinster)
14. Keith Earls (Munster)

15. Rob Kearney (Leinster)

Eight players (above) must be considered locks while the other senior stars - Schmidt's trusted lieutenants - will need to play well against what should be a strong Welsh side.

The Ireland coach was stung by seeing what was close to his strongest XV getting rolled over by the English. Loyalty may only stretch so far.

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