Ireland XV that should start quarter final against New Zealand
15 men will get the honour of starting next weekend's World Cup quarter final, but all 23 of the match-day squad will be required to get this job done.
After the disappointment of Yokohama, this Ireland team secured a World Cup quarter final off their own steam by getting bonus point wins over Russia and Samoa. There was a small chance they could top Pool A but Japan's 28-21 victory over Scotland put paid to that.
That means Ireland will face the All Blacks at Tokyo Stadium next Saturday, October 19, and history awaits. Should Ireland beat New Zealand at a major tournament for the first time, they will reach a World Cup semi final... for the first time.
The reigning world champions have looked in ruthless form, so far, in Japan but Ireland have won two of the last three Test encounters against them. There will be a seed of doubt within Steve Hansen's squad.
Looking ahead to that game, Barry Murphy, Andrew Trimble and Jerry Flannery discussed one of the big selection calls in the latest episode of Baz & Andrew's House of Rugby [from 26:00 below]:
To Flannery, the No.15 jersey should go to the in-form Jordan Larmour. That would mean no place in the starting XV, and most likely the match-day 23, for Rob Kearney.
Andrew Trimble is not so sure. He commented:
"I don't know. Larmour played really well but I think, when you're playing the All Blacks and you've got someone like Kearney, who's been there and done it and who's a big-game player... it's a totally different game. Samoa is not the same as playing the All Blacks.
"Larmour was unbelievable today; he was brilliant. Making line breaks, stepping lads, making offlads, scoring tries. Grand against Samoa but this [New Zealand] is a totally different game. He did all he could possibly do, though."
"But when will he ever get a chance?" Flannery asked. "If you were Jordan Larmour and you played that game... I thought his fundamentals were pretty decent and then you've got that magic on the edge... I completely get that Rob is so dependable and his fundamentals are outstanding but, at some stage, if you're that player [like Larmour], you just say, 'Well, every time you pick me, I deliver'."
Bundee Aki faces a citing commission on Monday and he is expected to miss the quarter final at least. A stiffer ban, for his red card tackle against Samoa, could see his tournament end early.
"In terms of centre," says Flannery, "it's the one area where we are well stocked. There's Chris Farrell, Robbie Henshaw and Garry Ringrose." Keith Earls can also cover centre if needs be [he started the 2015 World Cup quarter final there after Henshaw was injured].
The other big call is blindside flanker, with Schmidt faced with four options - Peter O'Mahony, Jordi Murphy, Tadh Beirne and Rhys Ruddock. The right wing call (below) is a tough one too but Andrew Conway has been class in every game he has featured in this season.
Our Ireland XV to face New Zealand
15. Rob Kearney
14. Andrew Conway
13. Garry Ringrose
12. Robbie Henshaw
11. Jacob Stockdale
10. Johnny Sexton
9. Conor Murray
1. Cian Healy
2. Rory Best
3. Tadhg Furlong
4. Iain Henderson
5. James Ryan
6. Peter O'Mahony
7. Josh van der Flier
8. CJ Stander
Replacements: Sean Cronin, Dave Kilcoyne, Andrew Porter, Tadhg Beirne, Rhys Ruddock, Luke McGrath, Joey Carbery, Jordan Larmour.
The Ireland vs. New Zealand game takes place at 11:15am (Irish time) on Saturday, October 19.
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The latest episode sees Barry Murphy, Andrew Trimble and Jerry Flannery look ahead to the World Cup quarter finals, the possible Ireland team and talk Joker.