Rugby

Ireland's 2019 Rugby World Cup Team Could Be Even Better Than 2015

Ireland's 2019 Rugby World Cup Team Could Be Even Better Than 2015

2015 was the first time that it felt like Ireland had close to 50 players capable of playing to international standard. Even with injuries to the likes of Tommy O'Donnell, Rhys Ruddock, and Martin Moore - Joe Schmidt was able to leave behind talents like Andrew Trimble and people were able to accept it. Gone were the days of 2007, when only 26 of the 30 man squad got World Cup game time.

If we thought the depth in Irish rugby was good now, it'll be even more substantial in 2019. The benefits of Irish rugby's success in the mid 2000's is bearing fruit now, with a new generation of players coming through.

Even with a conservative estimation that the likes of Sean O'Brien (32), Keith Earls (32), Luke Fitzgerald (32), Cian Healy (32) and Jamie Heaslip (35) might not make 2019 (but they really should) - there could be as many as 70 quality players available to the national team - if they are managed correctly.

Some positions have more options than others. Loosehead prop, centres, backrow and fullback are positions where there is an abundance of talent - while positions like scrumhalf, outhalf and hooker are close to being bare should any injuries occur to front line players.

ireland 2019 rugby

2019 Loosehead Options:

  • Jack McGrath (Leinster)
  • Peter Dooley (Leinster)
  • Jeremy Loughman (Leinster)
  • Andrew Porter (Leinster)
  • Dave Kilcoyne (Munster)
  • James Cronin (Munster)
  • Denis Buckley (Connacht)
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Even just in Leinster there are too many loosehead prop options - Cian Healy, Jack McGrath, Peter Dooley, Jeremy Loughman, and Andrew Porter. It wouldn't be surprising to see one or two of these talented players move to another province under orders from IRFU performance director David Nucifora. Munster have Dave Kilcoyne and James Cronin who are both young and talented. Connacht have 25-year-old Denis Buckley becoming more and more influential for them, while they rate 21-year-old prop Jacob Walshe very highly.

It could be that Ulster will benefit, as they will need someone to back up 29-year-old Callum Black. It remains to be seen how 21-year-old academy prop Michael Lagan will develop.

2019 Centre Options:

  • Ian Madigan (Leinster)
  • Noel Reid (Leinster)
  • Ben Te'o (Leinster)
  • Garry Ringrose (Leinster)
  • Peter Robb (Connacht)
  • Bundee Aki (Connacht)
  • Robbie Henshaw (Connacht)
  • Rory Parata (Connacht)
  • Stuart Olding (Ulster)
  • Stuart McCloskey (Ulster)
  • Luke Marshall (Ulster)
  • Sam Arnold (Ulster)
  • Jacob Stockdale (Ulster)

Look at the quality of the Ulster centres. All four are good enough to start for any province for the next five years. But Ireland suddenly has a lot of talent coming through at centres at the same time, while some overseas and older players are standing in the way.

Unless something huge happens in Ireland's U-19 ranks this year - there will be a shortage of locks and outhalves (conservatively) assuming that Johnny Sexton (34) will not be involved.

Ireland can still improve despite the retirements of some key players, but the next four years are huge for developing the next core of talent.

Let us know what you think the XV will be in 2019.

See Also: Ireland's Next Great Centre Garry Ringrose Gets His First Professional Try

See Also: There's An Exciting Irishman In World Rugby's "5 Future Rugby Legends"

Conor O'Leary
Article written by
"That's what." - She.

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