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17th Sep 2019

Chris Farrell may leapfrog Garry Ringrose for World Cup opener

Patrick McCarry

Chris Farrell

Ireland have a few ways of going up against the Scots, even without a couple of senior stars.

The time difference between Ireland and Japan means the squad updates, and unofficial murmurings, come through at all hours. You can be getting ready for bed when you see Robbie Henshaw is in danger of missing the entire tournament. Putting the breakfast bowls away when you hear Rob Kearney may miss the opener against Scotland.

Ireland say Kearney’s calf strain has not ruled him out of contention for Sunday’s game. Should he miss out, however, we would expect Andrew Conway to cover fullback while Jordan Larmour would start on the right wing.

The positive news from Ireland camp is that Joey Carbery is back in full training. By the time Sunday rolls around, it will be six weeks from when Carbery damaged ankle ligaments in a warm-up win over Italy. It would be risky to place him on the bench, especially with the next game against Japan coming six days later.

The big call for Ireland coach Joe Schmidt would appear to be in midfield, with Robbie Henshaw now certain to miss Sunday’s game. That selection shout, and the fullback call, was discussed by Barry Murphy, Andrew Trimble and Jerry Flannery in the latest episode of Baz & Andrew’s House of Rugby.

Jacob Stockdale and Chris Farrell during Ireland’s win over Wales in Cardiff. (Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile)

The shame about Henshaw missing out is that he hit the ground running, against Wales, in his first game of the season. The Bundee Aki partnership was struck up again and looked Ireland’s best bet for the World Cup.

“It’s going to be important that whoever is at 13,” notes Flannery. “You saw Henshaw and how high he got up on the outside and how he cut off that last pass.”

Murphy believes Ireland will go with Aki and Garry Ringrose – their most used midfield combination of the past four years – but Trimble suggests Chris Farrell.

TRIMBLE: “Well, that was what people initially were saying but then, like, with the physicality you might get from Farrell, would there not be an argument there as well? But if he’s getting high and you want someone to make reads the way Henshaw made, then that’s probably Ringrose.”

FLANNERY: “Well, I think Chris Farrell is probably capable of that as well. But I would have thought that with Henshaw out, Ringrose would be the next man up.

MURPHY: “Again, you pointed out last week that he becomes that utility player and that with Henshaw down, you would assume he’d go straight in. But that’s not the case because, off the bench, he can cover everything across the backline.”

Trimble feels the advance notice of Henshaw missing out could well work out in the favour of Ringrose. Had Henshaw been ruled out late in the week, Farrell may have been dropped straight in.


The latest episode sees Barry Murphy, Andrew Trimble and Jerry Flannery look ahead to the 2019 Rugby World Cup.

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