Big changes for Ireland team that should start final warm-up against Samoa
The final hit-out before the big show starts.
On Thursday, Andy Farrell will name his Ireland team for the final World Cup warm-up game before the big tournament comes fully into focus.
Having dispatched of Italy and England with only foot injuries to Jack Conan and Dan Sheehan in the 'negatives' ledger, Ireland are in Bayonne this week before their Saturday night clash with Samoa.
We almost expected Andy Farrell to keep on the likes of Gavin Coombes, Caolin Blade, Kieran Treadwell, Tom Stewart and Calvin Nash, with one eye on keeping his frontliners out of the line of fire. With those five released back to their provinces, we may see the likes of Caelan Doris and Robbie Henshaw drafted back into service.
Many changes in our Ireland team
It would be great to see Rónan Kelleher get a run out before that final squad is named, with Rob Herring backing him up. Dan Sheehan can rest up.
Conor Murray starts for us, alongside Jack Crowley with many of the team that featured against Italy in from the start. Ideally, Jack Conan would start too, but any minutes off the bench would be a bonus. He will be eager to prove his fitness but Cian Prendergast would benefit from another start at No.8.
Ryan Baird getting a blindside star takes Josh van der Flier and Caelan Doris out of the firing line, too. Keith Earls could well feature again, as well as Jacob Stockdale, even though neither is a guarantee to make the final squad and, you would not think, both could be accommodated.
This team is selected with the Romania game, on September 8, in mind. If Dave Kilcoyne is not fully fit, Cian Healy would come in.
POTENTIAL IRELAND TEAM TO FACE ENGLAND
15. Jimmy O'Brien
14. Keith Earls
13. Robbie Henshaw
12. Stuart McCloskey
11. Jacob Stockdale
10. Jack Crowley
9. Conor Murray
1. Cian Healy
2. Rob Herring/Rónan Kelleher
3. Tom O'Toole
4. Joe McCarthy
5. Iain Henderson (captain)
6. Ryan Baird
7. Peter O'Mahony
8. Cian Prendergast
Ireland will officially name their team to face Samoa on Thursday afternoon.
BRIAN O'DRISCOLL ON FIRST CALL-UPS AND CAREER HIGHS:
- Keith Earls did the thing he vowed he'd never do again, but it was just too perfect
- Jack Crowley not letting Ross Byrne out of his sights, as Cian Prendergast books World Cup ticket
- Ireland vs. England: All the talking points, biggest moments and player ratings
- Roy Keane cracks jokes with Johnny Sexton and Andy Farrell at Ireland training camp
- Paul O'Connell on his most treasured jersey swap and toughest opponent