Rugby

The Ireland Team We Want To See Start Against Wales

The Ireland Team We Want To See Start Against Wales

Warren Gatland's quest for a farewell Grand Slam has only one final hurdle, with Ireland in Cardiff looming.

Joe Schmidt cut a relieved man after victory over France last weekend put Ireland's 2019 back on track. Immense performances from James Ryan, Garry Ringrose and Iain Henderson ensured a bonus-point victory in the Aviva Stadium.

On this week's Balls.ie rugby podcast, World in Union, we discussed the Ireland team that should start this weekend (46.00) and also covered the shambles that is currently ongoing in Welsh rugby (25.00) with Blood and Mud podcast co-host Josh Gardiner.

This weekend's game is an interesting prospect for Ireland. In many ways, it is more about a good performance than a positive result. With a World Cup on the horizon, this game is another opportunity to expose squad players to elite-level in-game action that they need in order to be ready for October.

In order to have a fully ready World Cup squad, any team with winning aspirations need a large host of mid-2o players who have played 20+ times.

Currently, Ireland have three positions without a clear second-choice; full-back, scrum-half and hooker.

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Ireland team

In the case of hooker, while Rory Best is the captain and starting number 2, there is comfort in the fact Sean Cronin has 65 caps and performed admirably when starting for Leinster in Europe this season.

At scrum-half, 27-year-old Kieran Marmion has 23 caps. Conor Murray is also in the process of playing his way back into form which may dictate no change there.

This leaves full-back. Ireland do not have any clear second choice to the consistent Rob Kearney. The Leinster man has made the starting jersey his own and thrived against Scotland. However, the prospect of exposing 21-year-old Jordan Larmour who has only 8 caps for Ireland to a blockbuster Cardiff caldron could prove beneficial in the long-run for Irish depth.

The balance between long-term planning and short-term confidence is delicate but there is a reason we merely speculate while Joe Schmidt expertly calculates. Saturday's team will go some way towards demonstrating that.

Elsewhere, Tadhg Beirne has not played any Six Nations action so far and could certainly infuriate the controlled Welsh attacking tempo yet Iain Henderson has done nothing wrong either. It comes down to a toss-up, although Schmidt may opt for Beirne due to that pre-mentioned squad depth.

Finally, while it has been reported that Sean O'Brien will return, Jack Conan was superb against France and offers another dimension to a powerful back-row.

15- Jordan Larmour, 14- Keith Earls, 13- Gary Ringrose, 12- Robbie Henshaw, 11- Jacob Stockdale, 10- Johnny Sexton, 9- Conor Murray;
8- Jack Conan, 7- CJ Stander, 6- Peter O’Mahony, 5- James Ryan, 4. Tadhg Beirne, 3- Tadhg Furlong, 2- Rory Best, 1- Cian Healy:
16. Sean Cronin, 17. Dave Kilcoyne 18. Andrew Porter, 19. Iain Henderson,20. Sean O’Brien, 21. John Cooney, 22. Jack Carty, 23. Andrew Conway.

SEE ALSO: The Revolution In Munster That Has Helped Power Ireland To A Six Nations Title

Maurice Brosnan

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