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29th Mar 2021

Youthful XV Andy Farrell could select for Ireland’s next Test

Patrick McCarry


“Oh, I would hope so.”

Before Ireland finished up their Six Nations campaign with a morale-boosting win over England, Andy Farrell was asked about possible summer Test matches for his side.

The Ireland head coach had been hoping for a couple of summer Test matches to further work with his squad. The original plan – long before we had ever heard of Covid-19 – was a summer 2021 tour to the Pacific Islands for matches against Fiji, and possibly Samoa or Tonga.

Ireland have not visited the Pacific Islands since 2004 so the tour would have been highly anticipated, at home and abroad. While those island nations will be gutted to miss out on those games, they have been boosted by World Rugby announcing they will support two teams from the area making a Super Rugby entry in 2022.

Farrell would have been warmly welcomed into the British & Irish Lions fold, for the tour to South Africa, but was inclined to stick about and work with the next generation of international players if some decent opposition could be sourced.

He eventually got his wish as two summer Tests against the USA and Japan were confirmed by the IRFU, on May 10.

Craig Casey prior to the Six Nations match between Wales and Ireland at the Principality Stadium. (Photo by Gareth Everett/Sportsfile)

The IRFU could do with a couple of summer Test matches, too, as it would boost the coffers [although fans are still unlikely to be in attendance]. Japan are set to be in Europe to play a Lions warm-up game at Murrayfield so it would make sense to sound them out about getting bang for their travelling buck.

“To get that result against a very good side like England and to get the performance like we did just reiterates a few things, for the next time that we meet up,” said Farrell after his side had flaked England 32-18 at the Aviva Stadium.

“We’ll keep in contact between now and then but, like we always say, we feel that we are on the upwards regarding on own game coming together behind the scenes. If that translates to the field at the weekend is obviously debatable but we just solidified for us that we’re on the right track so it was a chance to highlight that.”

Ireland’s strong finish to the Six Nations – winning their final three games to finish third – improved the Lions chances of several players. Conservative estimates had eight Ireland stars making Warren Gatland’s touring squad, and that is how many they ended up with.

With the Lions contingent confirmed, and with one eye on the future, this is the Starting XV we would love to see if Ireland can arrange a summer Test, or two.

The match-day squad is a mix of experience and lads capable of making the step-up in the next year, with the likes of Robert Baloucoune, Dan Sheehan and Mike Lowry included in the extended squad.


15. Hugo Keenan (Leinster)
14. Jordan Larmour (Leinster)
13. Jimmy O’Brien (Leinster)
12. James Hume (Ulster)
11. Jacob Stockdale (Ulster)
10. Joey Carbery (Munster)
9. Craig Casey (Munster)

1. Dave Kilcoyne (Munster)
2. Ronan Kelleher (Leinster)
3. Tom O’Toole (Ulster)
4. Fineen Wycherley (Munster)
5. Ryan Baird (Leinster)
6. Gavin Coombes (Munster)
7. Will Connors (Leinster)
8. Caelan Doris (Leinster)

Subs: Kevin O’Byrne, James Cronin, Tom Clarkson, Gavin Thornbury, Jack O’Donoghue, Luke McGrath, Harry Byrne, Shane Daly.

*Updated from piece first published on March 29


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