Rugby World Cup 2019: Ireland Squad (Forwards)

Ireland have announced their 44 man training group ahead of their World Cup preparations with two debutants, former Sale Sharks fullback Mike Haley and Munster’s South African import Jean Kleyn also included amongst the more familiar names such as the retiring Rory Best and 2018 World Player of the Year Jonny Sexton.

Rory Best will captain the team from hooker and he is joined by Niall Scannell, Rob Herring and long time deputy Sean Cronin. With Best and Cronin likely to go Joe Schmidt will have a tough time choosing between the two hookers the other side of 30, Niall Scannell, 27 and Rob Herring, 29.

Scannell has the advantage in caps with his 14 doubling the seven earned by Rob Herring and he is highly regarded by Munster head coach Johan Van Graan.

By the side of Best we expect there to be five options. Tadhg Furlong is arguably the best tighthead prop in the world. His Leinster teammate Cian Healy is also excellent and one of the best scrummagers going. Munster pair David Kilcoyne and John Ryan are the form back-ups to provide extra power late on. Then there is a debate to be had about where they will need the extra option.

Cian_Healy_2015_RWC
By Warwick Gastinger – Rugby World Cup DSCN4902, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=43622805

Jack McGrath is heavily experienced with 54 Ireland caps but with he has to contend with the highly rated 23 year old Andrew Porter and the less fancied Finlay Bealham. Porter would benefit from the high octane environment of a World Cup.

If we are totally honest in the engine room there is one man above all others, James Ryan. Just 22 years old but by far the best lock that Ireland have.

To offset the youthful exuberance is the totem pole-like Leinster second row, Devin Toner. He is closely followed by the in-form lock, Tadhg Beirne who has impressed at Thomond Park this season putting in some massive performances in the Champions Cup.

Jean Kleyn has done well to make the squad but he’s not in the same class as supposed Ireland mainstay Iain Henderson and Ultan Dillane. Henderson has 30 more caps than Dillane and provides a very safe pair of hands at the lineout similar to Dillane in many ways.

In the back row Ireland have plenty of options, the main one being Munster’s, Peter O’Mahony. CJ Stander is also a key component to the back row with his carrying a very important part of Ireland’s attacking game, with that in mind Jack Conan is also fast becoming indispensable to Joe Schmidt’s side.

Josh van der Flier is the natural successor to Sean O’Brien and he has that natural openside feel to his game as he has shown countless times not just for Ireland but also his province, Leinster.

Tommy O’Donnell, Rhys Ruddock and Jordi Murphy have all had some great performances in the green of Ireland, O’Donnell’s long range try over Italy in the Six Nations a fond memory for the Munster back row. Murphy has the most caps with 27, just six more than Ruddock and 15 more than his fellow clubman.

Our Picks

On the Plane: Rory Best (Ulster), Tadhg Furlong (Leinster), Peter O’Mahony (Munster), James Ryan (Leinster)

In the Departure Lounge: Cian Healy (Leinster), CJ Stander (Munster), Devin Toner (Leinster)

Checking In: Jack Conan, Sean Cronin (both Leinster), Iain Henderson (Ulster), David Kilcoyne, John Ryan (both Munster), Josh van der Flier (Leinster)

Packing: Tadhg Beirne (Munster), Jordi Murphy (Ulster), Andrew Porter (Leinster), Niall Scannell (Munster)

At Home: Finlay Bealham, Ultan Dillane (both Connacht), Rob Herring (Ulster), Jean Kleyn, Tommy O’Donnell (both Munster), Rhys Ruddock (Leinster)

Road to Tokyo: New Zealand Forwards Evaluation

Still very much the team to beat heading into 2019 we take a look at who’s booked their ticket to Japan and who will watching from afar. Here’s our look at New Zealand’s options.

This year has seen the meteoric rise of the frighteningly talented Karl Tu’inukuafe, out of nowhere he has made himself Steve Hansen’s first choice. At 25 years old he has his best prop years ahead of him. Alongside him there is veteran the 106 cap Owen Franks. Franks has been a stalwart for New Zealand for a long time.

Joe Moody is another player that has been around a long time and we know from history that experience counts at a World Cup. On the tighthead side behind Franks there are three very strong options with Nepo Laulala, Ofa Tu’ungafasi and Jeffery Toomaga-Allen all capped and with Hansen likely to take five props it will be a tough decision deciding which one to take although November suggests Tu’ungafasi is leading the charge. Add into the mix the uncapped duo of Tim Perry and Angus Ta’avao and it’s an area of strength for New Zealand.

In between the props things are a little clearer, Codie Taylor and Dane Coles are by far and away the best hookers in New Zealand. They offer so much more than anyone else.

New Zealand will probably need a third option in case one of their frontline options gets injured. The Chiefs Nathan Harris seems the obvious option but there could be a case made for the Highlanders Liam Coltman after a strong season for him in Super Rugby. Some tough calls lie ahead for the selectors.

Second row, New Zealand have the best pairing in the world in their ranks with Brodie Retallick and Sam Whitelock. They have to go. Then there is the less glamorous Barret brother, Scott who had an immense title winning season with the Crusaders and has been a revelation for the All Blacks this year.

2017.08.19.20.22.55-Sam_Whitelock_(36665246546)
By http://www.davidmolloyphotography.com from Sydney, Australia – 2017.08.19.20.22.55-Sam Whitelock, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=61951964

Behind them there maybe space for one more lock, there are a couple of viable options, Patrick Tuipulotu, he offers a lot in the loose and is a very capable lineout option which could be key with quick turnarounds Retallick won’t be able to play every game. The other option is Jackson Hemopo who has three caps. A more physical presence than Tuipulotu but less experienced.

One area that will be interesting is the back row, some very big calls to be made here. Despite growing calls from the public to drop him Kieran Read is likely to be captain in Japan.

Sam Cane is still very much a valuable weapon for New Zealand, the traditional ‘fetcher’ and leads the charge despite pressures from the outstanding Ardie Savea and Matt Todd. Todd has been great for the Crusaders but with spaces limited in the back row and Savea’s versatility could see him forced out.

Shannon Frizell is the bolter coming out on nowhere and would be a worthy addition to the All Blacks, he has the pace and power to make a serious difference and bring a new dynamic to New Zealand. Liam Squire will be looking over his shoulder at the 24 year old coming into 2019. The final man in contention is Akira Ioane, uncapped and raw but definitely talented, must be something in the water at the Ioane household, with his brother Rieko being one of the best wings in the world.

36562299801_86f0e08b21_o
Taken by http://www.davidmolloyphotography.com

There is also the presence of Vaea Fifita who has been in and around the New Zealand squad all season but with the restriction of just 31 players he could be one of the unlucky ones.

In summary

On the Plane: Kieran Read, Owen Franks, Brodie Rettalick, Sam Whitelock, Karl Tu’inakuafe, Codie Taylor

In the Departure Lounge: Joe Moody, Dane Coles, Scott Barrett, Liam Squire, Ardie Savea, Sam Cane

Checking In: Ofa Tu’ungafasi, Matt Todd

Packing: Nepo Laulala, Nathan Harris, Patrick Tuipulotu

Booking Elsewhere: Angus Ta’avao, Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, Tim Perry, Liam Coltman, Jackson Hemopo, Shannon Frizell, Akira Ioane, Vaea Fifita

World XV: Part Three

Our final part of our World XV, our coaches edition, to boss our fearsome forwards and our brilliant backs. We’ve picked a head coach, backs coach, forwards coach, attack & skills coach and defence coach.

Head Coach- Joe Schmidt

The Ireland head coach has transformed Ireland into the second best team in the world in a post O’Driscoll world building a squad of youthful exuberance and huge talent.

He is also the mastermind behind a very successful Leinster team, the most consistent side in European club rugby. Schmidt is possibly the best man manager in rugby and continues to defy odds with his small pool of players as Ireland continue their run of wins.

Backs Coach- Gregor Townsend

The former Glasgow boss has brought the electric attacking rugby he had there to th international arena with his Scotland side.

He seems to be getting the best out of a talented backline containing the likes of Huw Jones, Stuart Hogg and Finn Russell. Scotland look the real deal under the former fly-half, he knows how to construct an attack.

Forwards Coach- Mario Ledesma

The former Argentine hooker was the man that solved the former joke of world rugby, the Australian scrum. He’s a miracle worker and has had a fairly strong start to his tenure as Argentina head coach.

Wins over South Africa and beating Australia in their own backyard is no mean feat. Ledesma can build a very dominant pack and knows the set piece inside out.

Mario_Ledesma_01
By Zegreg63 – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=11470538

Defence Coach- Shaun Edwards

The defence guru. He has become known for his ability to coach a defence. His long running partnership with Warren Gatland has taken him to the heights of domestic rugby with English side Wasps and international rugby with Wales.

Shaun Edwards is one of the best rugby minds in the world, he is certainly the man to lead our defence.

Attack & Skills Coach- Wayne Smith

The second Kiwi on the list. This man is often mooted as the mastermind behind the All Blacks efficient, slick attacking play that has made them one of the most entertaining sides in the world.

Smith is a wonderfully talented coach and the teams he has bossed always do the basics extremely well, which is vital to any team succeeding.

Wayne_Ross_Smith
By Lasersareattackingme – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=61683471

So our final line-up is below.

1 Cian Healy 2 Malcolm Marx 3 Tadhg Furlong 4 Brodie Retallick 5 Maro Itoje 6 Peter O’Mahony 7 David Pocock 8 Kieran Read

9 Conor Murray 10 Beauden Barrett 11 Rieko Ioane 12 Owen Farrell 13 Jonathan Davies 14 Jacob Stockdale 15 Stuart Hogg

HC Joe Schmidt FC Mario Ledesma BC Gregor Townsend DC Shaun Edwards A&SC Wayne Smith

Let us know what you think in the comments!