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The Ireland Team We Want To See Start Against New Zealand

The Ireland Team We Want To See Start Against New Zealand
Maurice Brosnan
By Maurice Brosnan
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The countdown is on. Ireland are set for a gigantic clash with kingpins New Zealand. A mixed November campaign is set for its deciding outing this Saturday as the Aviva Stadium plays host to the top two teams in the world.

Joe Schmidt will undoubtedly know what areas of the game need to be addressed, starting with the line-out. Across all games, one of the prevailing narratives so far has been the importance of that set-piece. England suffered with a lowly 66% success rate against New Zealand and ended up losing by a point.

It cost South Africa the game in Twickenham the week before and repeatedly saw Ireland surrender good field position on Saturday. 76% is a poor return and must be addressed if Rory Best and co. want to land a historic victory this week. Devin Toner's recall should provide necessary assurance.

Elsewhere, there has been confirmation that Robbie Henshaw and Conor Murray will miss out due to injury. Rob Kearney's availability is less clear. For the purposes of this team, we will assume he is not fit to play although that could change later in the week.

Much has been made of Jordan Larmour's struggles against Argentina. The Leinster man's run at full-back saw him fail to take two high kicks and get isolated and pinged for holding for Argentina's first score. However, these should not protrude as areas of serious concern. The real challenge for a player in this set-up is not playing as full-back in an Ireland team, it is playing full-back in an Andy Farrell defence.


Farrell prefers the 14-1 defensive line. This means the full-back is left covering the backfield while the defensive is packed with bodies. Naturally, the chaotic nature of a game will see a winger or the out-half drop back at times, usually in anticipation of a kick. However, generally, this is how the Irish system operates.

Thus, to play full-back demands superb positioning and constant attentiveness. The majority of rivals will prefer to play with two in the backfield, New Zealand use three such is their preference for a quick counter-attacking game.


Larmour's pace allows him to cover this area well and he was not found out of position, it is merely the skill of fielding that he needs to develop. This is nothing new. Andy Farrell has spent one-on-one time with Jacob Stockdale to improve his defending, Conor Murray did similar with Richie Murphy for his kicking.

Depth for the World Cup would require squad players to have above 20 caps. Jordan Larmour has seven caps, Dan Leavy has ten.

Here is our Ireland team, taking into account line-out woes, injuries and building test experience for a World Cup.


1- Cian Healy 2- Rory Best 3- Tadhg Furlong 4- Devin Toner 5- James Ryan 6- Peter O'Mahony 7- Dan Leavy 8- CJ Stander

9- Kieran Marmion 10- Johnny Sexton 11- Jacob Stockdale 12- Bundee Aki 13- Garry Ringrose 14- Jordan Larmour 15- Keith Earls   

16- Sean Cronin 17- Jack McGrath 18- Andrew Porter 19- Tadhg Beirne 20-Rhys Ruddock 21- Luke McGrath 22- Joey Carbery 23- Andrew Conway

The game takes place at the Aviva Stadium this Saturday, with kick-off at 7.00pm.

SEE ALSO: New Zealand's Escape Means Ireland Can't Make World Ranking History Next Week

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