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The Exciting And Fresh Ireland Side To Take On Fiji

The Exciting And Fresh Ireland Side To Take On Fiji
By Michael Bolton Updated
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After a bruising  but thrilling victory against South Africa, Ireland’s attention turns to Saturday, where they will face the always entertaining Fiji at the Aviva Stadium. While a couple of changes were always likely ahead of this game, injuries and the highly physical nature of the victory over South Africa has forced Andy Farrell to reconsider some of his options. Conor Murray is ruled out of the rest of the tour, while Tadhg Furlong and Robbie Henshaw remain doubtful ahead of this weekend’s game.

Despite losing to Scotland, Ireland will be all too aware of the qualities Fiji possess, with a late penalty scraping Ireland to victory in 2017.

Here is the Ireland team we would like to see face Fiji.

Front Row: Cian Healy, Rob Herring And Finlay Bealham

The front row that finished the game against South Africa, especially Bealham, put in big displays to see Ireland to victory. While Furlong remains doubtful, the Connacht prop deserves to start against Fiji. Healy's experience against a massive Fiji pack will be vital, while Herring's throwing at the line out will be key.

5 November 2022; Finlay Bealham of Ireland during the Bank of Ireland Nations Series match between Ireland and South Africa at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin. Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile

Second Row: James Ryan And Tadhg Bernie

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James Ryan is playing some of his best rugby since 2018, and was instrumental in the win over the World Champions. The breakdown could be a key battle against Fiji, and Bernie’s quality in this area could prove to be crucial.

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Back Row: Cian Prendergast, Nick Timoney and Caelan Doris.

One area where Ireland are not short in options is the back row, and can afford to mix things up on Saturday. Cian Prendergast was one of the few bright performances against New Zealand XV and should earn his first full international cap. Josh Van Der Flier could be rested to explore alternative options at seven, with Ulster’s Nick Timoney long overdue a start.

Half Backs: Craig Casey And Joey Carbery

Crag Casey had a difficult night in the Ireland 'A' loss to New Zealand, but will get far more protection from his pack this saturday, in a game that will test his abilities as an international scrum-half. Beside him should be Joey Carbery, who will look to put the disappointing form for Munster behind him this weekend. Carbery was the standout player in the last meeting between the sides, and will be aiming for another top performance this weekend.

Centre: Stuart McCloskey  And Robbie Henshaw

Prior to his injury, Stuart McCloskey was playing some brilliant rugby against South Africa. With his injury not as bad as originally feared, Fiji will be the perfect side to show what he's capable of in a green jersey. If fit, Robbie Henshaw should be the outside of him.

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Back Three: Jimmy O’Brien, Robert Balacoune And Hugo Keenan

Jimmy O’Brien put in a top performance on his debut at inside centre, a position he hasn’t played in the last couple of seasons against the world champions. Balacoune will get far more opportunities to attack in what should be a far more open game against Fiji. Hugo Keenan made his first appearance of the season against South Africa and was solid in both defence and attack.

Replacements: Dan Sheehan, Andrew Porter, Tom O’Toole, Kieran Treadwell, Max Deegan, Jamison Gibson-Park, Jack Crowley And Shane Daly

Fiji won’t be looking forward to seeing the pace of Dan Sheehan as they fatigue in the second half, while Max Deegan can cover all the back row slots. Gibson-Park will keep up a quick tempo to the game when he comes on, while Jack Crowley could make his international debut with Ciarán Frawley injured. Shane Daly can cover all positions across the backline.

SEE ALSO: The Angry South African Twitter Reaction After Ireland Defeat 

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