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Brian O'Driscoll In Two Minds On Final Spot For Ireland's RWC Squad

Brian O'Driscoll In Two Minds On Final Spot For Ireland's RWC Squad
Eoin Harrington
By Eoin Harrington
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We're now a matter of weeks away from the Ireland squad for this year's Rugby World Cup being revealed.

With the recent success of Andy Farrell's side, Ireland will deservedly enter the tournament as one of the favourites to win the whole thing, and the competition to make it into the final 33 for the tournament in France is fierce.

There are of course locks in the squad, with the first-choice XV almost known ahead of time, but there are sure to be a few contentious spots in the final panel brought to France, and coach Farrell has some tough choices ahead of him.

READ HERE: 4 Irish Players Who Put Their Hand Up For World Cup Selection Against Italy

One of the most difficult areas in which to choose a reasonable panel is in the back three. Hugo Keenan, James Lowe, and Mack Hansen are likely to start the biggest games, while Jimmy O'Brien is also expected by most to travel to France.

In 2019, Ireland brought five back three players to Japan, when the squads were only 31 in size. That means that, once Keenan, Lowe, Hansen, and O'Brien are slotted in, there will likely be only one spot left for Farrell to choose another wing or full-back.

On Wednesday afternoon, Ireland legend Brian O'Driscoll shared his most recent shot at picking a World Cup squad - with 34 players named, and the former Leinster centre unable to make a call on the final back three spot in the squad.


READ HERE: Fans Argue Over The Legality Of Clever Ireland Tactic Used Against Italy

Brian O'Driscoll torn between Earls and Stockdale for Ireland squad

Jacob Stockdale Ireland v Italy

5 August 2023; Jacob Stockdale of Ireland in action against Paolo Odogwu of Italy during the Bank of Ireland Nations Series match between Ireland and Italy at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin. Photo by John Dickson/Sportsfile

Ireland claimed a memorable third Grand Slam victory earlier this year, but there were two notable absentees from the squad.


Jacob Stockdale and Keith Earls, both first-choice wings in 2018's Grand Slam triumph, were ruled out through injury, and both have faced a race against time to get themselves back to full fitness for the run-in to the World Cup.

READ HERE: Farrell Gives Positive Update On Ireland Injury Situation After Win v Italy


Stockdale played his first game for Ireland in two years on Saturday, impressing many with his exploits in the Irish victory over Italy at the Aviva Stadium. He lined out alongside Earls, who had a few shaky moments in defence as he returned to the international fold after almost a year out.

The final wing spot in the World Cup squad is set to be fiercely contested, with 2018 Six Nations player of the tournament Stockdale, and Ireland's record World Cup try scorer Earls set to battle it out for the final place on the plane.

In a post shared to his Instagram page on Wednesday, Ireland's record cap holder Brian O'Driscoll said he could not separate the pair:


Just not quite sure on the call between Stockdale & Earls.

From one pre season outing it's advantage Stockdale but Earlsy brings a huge amount to the squad in terms of leadership, calmness, vast experience at RWC's & as a utility player covering 3/4 positions. Hmmm...


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Brian O'Driscoll (@brianodriscoll)


Leinster's Jamie Osborne and Munster's Calvin Nash are also part of Ireland's pre-World Cup training squad, and stand an outside chance of making the squad, but it would be a huge surprise if Farrell were to pick either of the youngsters over the experience of Earls or Stockdale.

Brian O'Driscoll's full prediction for the Ireland World Cup squad was as follows:

  • Forwards: Cian Healy, Dave Kilcoyne, Andrew Porter, Tadhg Furlong, Finlay Bealham, Tom O'Toole; Rob Herring, Dan Sheehan, Ronan Kelleher; James Ryan, Iain Henderson, Tadhg Beirne, Joe McCarthy, Ryan Baird; Peter O'Mahony, Josh van der Flier, Caelan Doris, Jack Conan
  • Backs: Jamison Gibson-Park, Conor Murray, Craig Casey; Johnny Sexton, Ross Byrne, Jack Crowley; Bundee Aki, Robbie Henshaw, Garry Ringrose, Stuart McCloskey; Jimmy O'Brien, Mack Hansen, James Lowe, Hugo Keenan, Jacob Stockdale or Keith Earls

Andy Farrell is expected to name his Ireland squad for the Rugby World Cup on August 28th.

Featured image: Sportsfile

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