The Probable Ireland Team To Take On The All Blacks In Chicago
Ireland travel to Chicago this weekend for a mouth-watering test game with the mighty All Blacks.
Joe Schmidt originally selected a 34-man squad but the Irish team departed Dublin Airport yesterday with just 27-men, with a number of high-profile absentees including the likes of Sean O’Brien, Peter O’Mahony and Iain Henderson.
O’Mahony and O’Brien have been left behind as they return to full fitness while Henderson is currently recovering from a shoulder injury. Paddy Jackson did not travel as he tries to deal with a sexual assault case that has been revealed today involving himself and Stuart Olding. Leinster outhalf Joey Carberry is now in-line to make his Ireland debut as he continues his meteoric rise.
Schmidt will more than likely go with a strong side for the opening test against New Zealand at Soldier Field as Ireland take on Canada the following week, giving Schmidt a chance to blood some younger players in and experiment a little.
Now bear in mind, this isn’t the selection we hope for, but more the selection we reckon Schmidt will go for.
1. Jack McGrath
McGrath gets the nod over Healy for us as Schmidt will want his best available front-row on the pitch come Saturday.
2. Rory Best (C)
The Ulster man will no doubt captain the side and if he has a stormer he can really upset the All Blacks come breakdown time.
3. John Ryan
Huge came for the Munster tighthead that could solidify him as Ireland’s number 1 tighthead for many years to come. If he plays like he did against Glasgow, the All Blacks front row will be in trouble.
4. Devin Toner
Still highly underrated for Ireland. Excellent line-out option and has an excellent work ethic around the pitch.
5. Donnacha Ryan
Ryan’s experience will be vital against the All Blacks. Once heralded as the next Paul O’Connell at Munster, he is coming back into form and fitness at the perfect time.
6. CJ Stander
In the absence of Peter O’Mahony we won’t find out just yet if Schmidt will choose Heaslip or Stander at 8. Until then, he’s back at 6 for the men in green as he gets his first bite at the All Blacks.
7. Josh Van Der Flier
The Leinster youngster will be hoping to impress in O’Brien’s absence and look to keep his 7 berth for both club and country.
8. Jamie Heaslip
Will Stander overthrow Heaslip when O’Mahony returns? Who knows, but until then his 8 shirt is guaranteed on Saturday.
9. Conor Murray
The Munster man is on serious form at the moment and if it continues will play a massive role on Saturday.
10. Johnny Sexton
He may not be a full match-fitness yet but Sexton will start on Saturday ahead of the young gun Carberry. Looks to be in good form from what we’ve seen so far this season and could be formidable with Murray alongside him once again on Saturday.
11. Simon Zebo
Zebo slots back onto the wing for Ireland on Saturday we reckon, in the absence of Keith Earls.
12. Robbie Henshaw
Henshaw is thankfully back to full match fitness and has started well with new club Leinster. Will be itching for a go off the All Blacks and will play a huge role in Ireland’s success/failure.
13. Jared Payne
You just can’t see Schmidt throwing Ringrose into the lions den against the All Blacks. Payne will be his man once again.
14. Andrew Trimble
No Tommy Bowe or Dave Kearney means Trimble will get his shot on the wing. Needs a big game and series to try and keep Bowe out when he returns to full match-fitness.
15. Rob Kearney
This won’t be a popular choice for many as Kearney just doesn’t seem to be in form at the moment. Chances are Schmidt will give him the nod on Saturday however, with Payne slotting back into midfield.