Ireland completed their November series last night with a hard fought 13-10 victory over Australia to complete a successful 2022. With wins over South Africa and Fiji, it was particularly pleasing to see Ireland grind out a scrappy victory when they weren’t at their best.
For several players in this squad, this was the last opportunity to lay down a marker to Andy Farrell before the Six Nations, and less than ten games before Ireland’s World Cup campaign gets underway in France. This November series saw players possibly change Andy Farrell’s mind when it comes to future squads and give him a welcome selection headaches.
Here is five players who stood out for Ireland this November.
What an incredible few weeks it has been for the Munster and Ireland fly-half. Crowley started the season as Munster’s third choice fly-half, with international ambitions not on the radar. However, an impressive Emerging Ireland tour, followed by some top performances for Munster, saw him included in the Ireland ‘A’ squad against New Zealand.
— Virgin Media Sport (@VMSportIE) November 19, 2022
An injury to Ciarán Frawley saw him make his international debut against Fiji, and he made his first start against Australia as a last minute replacement for Johnny Sexton. Under difficult circumstances, Crowley took his opportunities when presented, and has firmly put himself in Farrell’s pans for the future.
If his form continues for Munster, he could be the second choice fly-half for the Six Nations.
Like Crowley, Jimmy O’Brien thrived when he was put in the deep end unexpectedly. After making his international debut against South Africa at centre, the 25-year-old showed his versatility by playing in three different positions across the November series. His versatility will work for in his favour for further squads, particularly for the World Cup if he keeps up his good form with Leinster.
For the first time in his international career, Stuart McCloskey got a deserved run in the side. The Ulster centre has been one of Ireland’s most consistent players over recent seasons, and was finally rewarded this November. After coming off injured against South Africa, McCloskey rallied to firmly remind people of his qualities.
While he may have wished to show more offensively, his defensive displays in all three games were very impressive. The return of Bundee Aki last night showed how competitive places are, particularly at centre, so he will need to maintain this level of performance.
The Leinster second row showed he his back to his best with top performances against South Africa and Australia. Due to injuries and a dip in form in the last 18 months, there was questions raised about Rya. However, he answered them with flying colours, constantly causing problems for the opposition at the line out and breakdown.
A welcome sight not only for Leinster and Ireland, but for James Ryan himself.
Josh Van Der Flier
The Ireland flanker somehow keeps getting better and better each game. This year has seen Van Der Flier become one of the best players in the world with his performances. Known for his non-stop tackling for 80 minutes and his work at the breakdown, Van Der Flier has brought ball carrying into his game to bring himself to another level on the pitch. His clever try against South Africa showed how far he has come in the last 18 months.
— Autumn Nations Series (@autumnnations) November 5, 2022
If his form continues, Ireland will surely be successful in France next year.