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23rd Nov 2020

Much-changed Ireland team we’d like to see start against Georgia

Patrick McCarry


Ahead of the Autumn Nations Cup, Andy Farrell said he was hoping to give game-time to all of his 34-man squad.

Ireland are not quite back to the drawing board, but they have been left with more questions than answers after their 18-7 loss to England.

If that scoreline does not look too bad, you may have been one of the lucky ones that avoided, or didn’t catch all of, England crushing the life out of a wave after shaky wave of Irish attacks before gliding down the far end of the pitch to punish the men in green.

They were men in green, of course, and not boys. Andy Farrell says many of his players – even the 27 and 28-year-olds – grew from boys to men over the course of 80 unforgiving minutes at Twickenham. Asked to follow-up on those comments, to RTÉ, Farrell said:

“Well, you talk about tough and sometimes you have to take the ball up into a brick wall and take your medicine. The amount of times that Caelan Doris came out the other side was unbelievable, the amount of times that he kept offering himself.

“And James Ryan being captain for the first time, what an experience for him, I thought he played tough, he played really tough. And for the lads playing here for the first time, starting here for the first time like Jamison (Gibson-Park) and Hugo (Keenan), Billy (Burns) etcetera, they’re all going to be bigger and better for this experience also.”

Stuart McCloskey

With Georgia coming to the Aviva Stadium on Sunday, Farrell may opt to give the relative international newcomers an extra run out. He may also be keen to try out new combinations while several senior players will be itching to get back in the starting XV.

For us, it would be great to see Stuart McCloskey team up with Chris Farrell in midfield and, if Farrell is serious about it, Jacob Stockdale get another Test rugby run-out at 15. To give McCloskey a fair rattle, it would be nice to see Billy Burns get his first start at outhalf.

In the pack, Iain Henderson will be pounding down Farrell’s door for a start, while Josh van der Flier, Rob Herring and Andrew Conway will be making their presence felt in training, early this week. The Georgians have a sturdy pack, so we are going with a strong front five for the opening 50-55 minutes.

On the bench, Eric O’Sullivan (Ulster) and Shane Daly (Munster) would be a couple of deserving Test debutants. All told, nine changes and CJ Stander returning to his preferred No.8 spot.

Our Ireland team to face Georgia

15. Jacob Stockdale
14. Andrew Conway
13. Chris Farrell
12. Stuart McCloskey
11. James Lowe
10. Billy Burns
9. Jamison Gibson-Park

1. Cian Healy
2. Rob Herring
3. Andrew Porter
4. Tadhg Beirne
5. Iain Henderson (c)
6. Will Connors
7. Josh van der Flier
8. CJ Stander

Subs: Ronan Kelleher, Eric O’Sullivan, Finlay Bealham, Ultan Dillane, Peter O’Mahony, Conor Murray, Ross Byrne, Shane Daly.



Season 3 has returned with Ian Madigan & Eimear Considine as hosts, and has already featured interviews with Brian O’Driscoll, Nigel Owens, Sean Cronin, Shane Williams, Mike Brown, CJ Stander, Ugo Monye and more.


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