Ireland's expected team to face South Africa, as key players prove fitness
The Springboks have already named their match-day squad for the highly anticipated fixture.
The Ireland team to take on South Africa, on Saturday, in the biggest Test match on home soil in ages, will be named on Thursday afternoon.
Andy Farrell is a glutton for punishment, but he would not have it any other way.
After leading Ireland to their first meaningful silverware since taking over from Joe Schmidt, in March, Farrell took his Triple Crown winners to New Zealand on a five-match tour. The 'A' team shared a two-game stint against the Maori All Blacks, and the senior team claimed an historic Test Series win over New Zealand.
Farrell then pressed ahead with sending an Emerging Ireland squad to South Africa for a mini-tour against club sides, along with arranging an extra 'A' game to go along with the three-match Bank of Ireland Nations Series slate.
He will have been buoyed, then, by the likes of Josh van der Flier, Hugo Keenan and Tadhg Furlong passing fitness markers, ahead of this Springboks game. Those boosts, and the squad Farrell named for Friday's game against an All Blacks XV, are a show of cards to Jacques Nienaber and the reigning world champions [More on that below].
On the latest House of Rugby episode [from 4:15 below], Greg O'Shea, Lindsay Peat and Jason Hennessy looked ahead to that run of big games, and debated some of the big selection calls, in the back three and back row.
Ireland team selections become clearer
Andy Farrell named 10 players with Test match experience in his 'A' Ireland team to face the All Blacks XV.
In doing so, the Ireland coach tipped his hat towards a couple of key areas of selection. First up, Jacob Stockdale being named on the wing points the way towards Rob Baloucoune and Mack Hansen being given the wing slots against South Africa.
Likewise, having Cian Prendergast, Nick Timoney and Gavin Coombes in the back row, deputised by Max Deegan, would point at Farrell then choosing from Peter O'Mahony, Caelan Doris, Josh van der Flier and Jack Conan as his back row starters, and replacement. The tiny wrinkle here is Scott Penny not featuring in the 'A' squad, but van der Flier, to our knowledge, has shaken off a ankle complaint.
Hugo Keenan and Tadhg Furlong should also start. Both were fitness issues, but have trained well, and the inclusion of the likes of Michael Lowry, Tom O'Toole and Marty Moore in the 'A' squad point towards Farrell being satisfied his main men are good to go.
The final uncertainty surrounded Jamison Gibson-Park. The scrumhalf has not played for Leinster, so far, this season. Conor Murray may yet start but, to our knowledge again, Gibson-Park has been training well, this week.
Andy Farrell ended up having 51 Irish players at the High Performance Centre, in Dublin, this week. His main squad [37 players] and 'A' call-ups , as well as Iain Henderson and the suspended Bundee Aki.
PREDICTED IRELAND TEAM TO FACE SOUTH AFRICA
15. Hugo Keenan
14. Rob Baloucoune
13. Garry Ringrose
12. Robbie Henshaw
10. Johnny Sexton
9. Jamison Gibson-Park
1. Andrew Porter
2. Dan Sheehan
3. Tadhg Furlong
4. Tadhg Beirne
5. James Ryan
6. Peter O'Mahony
7. Josh van der Flier
8. Caelan Doris
Replacements: Rob Herring, Cian Healy, Finlay Bealham, Kieran Treadwell, Ryan Baird, Jack Conan, Conor Murray, Joey Carbery.