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Irish XV Outside The World Cup Squad Shows Some Incredible Strength In Depth

Irish XV Outside The World Cup Squad Shows Some Incredible Strength In Depth
By Conor O'Leary

Not everyone in Irish rugby was ever going to be happy with Ireland's Rugby World Cup squad. Ireland have an unprecedented amount of depth right now, which means that a number of quality players have been left behind.

In fact, Ireland have so many good players left behind that the best XV of Irish players not going is both very good, and full of competition in itself that people might disagree with some picks.

That's how good the depth in Irish rugby is at the moment.

1. Dave Kilcoyne
Kilcoyne isn't an immediate selection at loosehead here. Michael Bent was more of a shock omission from the squad - but that's more because of his ability to play on both sides of the scrum. Kilcoyne is, and will be, next in line should anything happen to Healy or McGrath.

Don't discount Denis Buckley or James Cronin, who are both young props that would have had 50+ caps were they born in any other era other than the Cian Healy/Jack McGrath one.

2. Duncan Casey

I know technically Rob Herring is next in line given that the Ulsterman was picked ahead of Casey in the extended squad. But Casey's exclusion still irks me. He's been one of the form Munster players for close to a year now, and at 24 going on 25, has a bright future ahead of him

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3. Marty Moore

Moore's inclusion in this team is for reasons other than his talent compared to others. It's almost strange that Ireland can bring three tightheads in the squad, and leave someone as good as Moore at home.

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4. Mick McCarthy

The forgotten man in Ireland's second row. He was crucial to the engine room just two years ago, but the emergence of Devin Toner and Iain Henderson has shunted him from view.

Another example that a move from Connacht to Leinster doesn't always work out for everyone.

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5. Dan Tuohy

Tuohy will probably remain on standby should an injury occur. The Ulster lock has been unfortunate with untimely injuries throughout his career, meaning that he should have more than the 11 caps he's earned.

An appalling performance against Scotland was uncharacteristic of Tuohy's ability - but that's the small margin that separates two players.

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6. Rhys Ruddock

Schmidt name-checked Rhys Ruddock as someone whose unfortunate injury made the back row selection that much easier. Of all the positions that Ireland's depth is greatest - it's at blindside flanker, and it always will be judging by the factory that is being produce with Conor Joyce (Ulster), Sean O'Brien (Connacht), Jack O'Donoghue (Munster), and Josh Murphy (Leinster).

Just a year ago, Ruddock was stepping into the starting team to dominate against South Africa - there's no doubt he would have been at home at the World Cup.

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7. Tommy O'Donnell

O'Donnell joins the unfortunate list that will be referred back to as having a horrible injury in the warm ups every time they role around. There's Geordan Murphy's broken leg in 2003, Shane Horgan in 2007, David Wallace and Felix Jones in 2011, and now poor Tommy O'Donnell.

Ireland most natural openside since Keith Gleeson will get his chance.

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8. Jack Conan

Jamie Heaslip has been so far ahead of everyone that we weren't sure who would play in his place. Conan has finally arrived to serve under the unbreakable machine.

It was always going to be tough for Conan to break this backrow depth so soon - but it's going to be fantastic to see him fight it out with Jack O'Donoghue and Lorcan Dow for Ireland's starting No.8 for the next decade.

9. Kieran Marmion

This isn't the time to get into a panic about the risks of only bringing two scrumhalves. It was always going to be a toss up between Marmion and Boss, and Schmidt merely decided he'd rather have Madigan.

10. Ian Keatley

His exclusion from the race still shocks people, especially that just seven months ago he was the starter for Ireland against a World Cup opponent.

11. Craig Gilroy

There's no place for the hot-stepping top try scorer from the Pro 12 last season. Zebo, Fitzgerald and Earls all give a similar X factor to Gilroy, who needs an injury free run to fully fulfill his huge potential.

12. Stuart Olding

Speaking of someone who needs an injury free run, Stuart Olding is the man with the most potential of a trio of great Ulster inside centres along with Luke Marshall and Stuart McCloskey, not forgetting the 19-year-old Sammy Arnold as well.

13. Gary Ringrose

Outside centre has been a problem in terms of depth for a long time, and there's only really the future potential of Junior World player of the year nominee 2014 Gary Ringrose to come in and challenge. All of the provincial contenders are either on the plane, or filled by non-Irish qualified talent.

14. Andrew Trimble

I don't need to champion Trimble's case, I'll let you do that for me.

15. Felix Jones

Felix Jones is quite unlucky. Seemingly the favourite of Schmidt's behind Kearney - he's a victim of the constraining squad rules, and the versatility of the rest of the squad that has eight players not named Rob Kearney who have played professional rugby at fullback.

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