The selection policies that we think Joe Schmidt should follow for the Guinness Series!
Ireland Vs New Zealand, Soldier Field, 5th of November
Ireland start with a bang in Chicago on Saturday, in what will be their first crack at the All Blacks this month.
The lengthily trek to stateside, compounded by a number of star players still just half way up the ladder to full fitness makes it an incredibly tricky task for the Irish from the off-set and that may well play a part in Schmidt’s medium term thinking. In my view, you simply cannot play somebody who is 80% fit against the World Champions and would thus give wider squad members the ultimate opportunity to put their hands up for the future. Win, lose, get hammered or draw it would leave Ireland in a healthier position come the Aviva leg. Release the Peter O’Mahonys and Sean O’Briens of this world on November 19th and beat into them with fiery eyes. Chicago will probably be more of an event than a rugby match.
On that note, it would be an unusual way to finally topple the worlds best, but Schmidt won’t be prepared to roll over for Steve Hansen’s men with any relative ease.
Here’s the team that we want to see take the game to the Kiwis:
Jack McGrath, Rory Best, Tadhg Furlong, Ultan Dillane, Donnacha Ryan, CJ Stander, Josh Van der Flier, Jamie Heaslip; Conor Murray, Johnny Sexton, Robbie Henshaw, Garry Ringrose; Simon Zebo, Andrew Trimble, Jared Payne
Jack McGrath – Cian Healy may be in the running for the home game but it’s probably best for him to reprove his international status from the bench first.
Tadhg Furlong – It would be great to see a baptism of fire for John Ryan but Schmidt likes to spend a lot of time with players before starting them in big games. Yes, we’re picking on our opinions but it would be highly unlikely to see any full debuts on the first match of the series.
Ultan Dillane – He will be an imperative bench option at home but I feel he needs a proper blow out here to truly announce himself.
Josh Van der Flier – Sean O’Brien and O’Mahony aren’t 100% just yet, hence the Leinster man’s selection.
Garry Ringrose – If Ireland are to have the full attack on the Kiwi’s on the 19th, Jared Payne will have to be at fullback. The selection of Ringrose would accommodate more international experience in the position and of course a great challenge to the ultra talented youngster.
Simon Zebo – In place of the suspended Keith Earls.
Ireland Vs Canada, Aviva Stadium, 12th of November
Ireland’s Chicago warriors will take a much needed break on their return to Dublin.
I’m looking forward to this game in a big way as the fixture promises a glimpse of the future and hopefully a sample of returning stars’ peaks of the past.
Here we want to see Cian Healy, Peter O’Mahony, Iain Henderson and Sean O’Brien bursting out of the blocks taking that final step up to top fitness all the while the promising likes of John Ryan, Luke McGrath, Joey Carbery, Garry Ringrose and Craig Gilroy play with some freedom in a green shirt.
It has the makings of an exciting, enjoyable and pretty fun evening of rugby for all Irish supporters to endure.
Cian Healy, James Tracy, John Ryan, Billy Holland, Iain Henderson, Peter O’Mahony, Sean O’Brien, Jordi Murphy; Luke McGrath, Joey Carbery, Luke Marshall, Garry Ringrose; Simon Zebo, Craig Gilroy, Rob Kearney
Ireland Vs New Zealand, Aviva Stadium, 19th of November
The big one.
It’s the date that Schmidt should be building towards. As of now, it looks like Ireland will have a full deck to choose from and if no major injuries are sustained in the two fixtures previous, it may be the perfect time and place for this Ireland group.
Do I think Ireland can do it? Maybe, but it will take a bastard of a performance from the men in green and an off-colour one for their elite visitors.
The bench selection here is a key. Ireland require 15 starters and 8 finishers to drive over the line to avoid repeat heartbreak.
Jack McGrath, Rory Best, John Ryan, Devin Toner, Donnacha Ryan, Peter O’Mahony, Sean O’Brien, CJ Stander, Conor Murray, Johnny Sexton, Robbie Henshaw, Garry Ringrose; Keith Earls, Andrew Trimble, Jared Payne
Sean Cronin, Cian Healy, Tadhg Furlong, Ultan Dillane, Iain Henderson, Kieran Marmion, Joey Carbery, Simon Zebo
John Ryan: Ireland need a dominant, or at least solid tighthead – and our imagination tells us that he wins man of the match against Canada. Whoever starts at tighthead needs a massive performance.
Garry Ringrose: You’d have to be hesitant having such a young player up against the All Blacks but we can’t be having Rob Kearney at fifteen and Simon Zebo is probably just too early in his development in the fifteen jersey to take responsibility in a game like this. Ringrose would allow Jared Payne to play in his best position and have a proper go against his native isle. Realistically Payne will play 13 but yeah…
Iain Henderson: Provides more oomph from the bench than Jamie Heaslip.
Ireland Vs Australia, Aviva Stadium, 26 November
This should be the most competitive game of the month as both teams complete their calendar for the year.
Ireland will be determined to finish the series on a high after daunting clashes with the All Blacks but may also use it get any unused personnel into action.
It should be very close to full strength but the Luke Marshall’s of this world will likely get a deserved chance here too.
Cian Healy, Rory Best, Tadhg Furlong, Ultan Dillane, Donnacha Ryan, Peter O’Mahony, Sean O’Brien, Jamie Heaslip; Conor Murray, Johnny Sexton, Luke Marshall, Robbie Henshaw; Keith Earls, Craig Gilroy, Rob Kearney