With the rugby World Cup just under a year away now from beginning in Japan (20th of September) I have decided to look at what would the possible team would be come around by then. We all know Ireland will face a Six Nations campaign before then in February 2019 but several players could break into the starting 15 in my opinion.
So let’s have a look at the team I would bring to Japan next year. In the backs starting at full back Rob Kearney is a shoe in. He will definitely travel and will bring experience to the side. The other alternative is to bring in Simon Zebo but the policy of using basically only home players ( that play with the provinces) will probably be factor. Joey Carbery would be an option here also as well as number 10. On the wings then, number 11 and 14, Jacob Stockdale has made an impressive start to his Ireland career and that was evident in the Six Nations of this year racking up tries. He is a guaranteed starter for me, the other two players I would see going to Japan are Keith Earls and Jordan Larmour. I expect these two players to battle it out for one of the starting spots anyway. In midfield then Ireland have the likes of Garry Ringrose, Bundee Aki and Robbie Henshaw, these three are probably the top three at the minute, but when Chris Farrell returns his name will be in the mix as well. At scrum half Conor Murray is a shoe in to start come next year, John Cooney who plays with Ulster and Luke McGrath are the other two alternatives that will provide back up to Murray.
So to the forwards, I expect Leinster player Cian Healy, Jack McGrath, Tadgh Furlong, Andrew Porter all to be named. Munster’s John Ryan would have a say also. At hooker Joe Schmidt will have Rory Best, the impressive Sean Cronin and Niall Scannell of Munster to choose from when time comes around. The second row is where I feel will be a difficult decision, but you would have to include Devin Toner, Ian Henderson, Ultan Dillane and Leinster’s James Ryan.
At 6, 7 and 8 is where Joe will have to make big decisions. Just listing some of the names, Peter O’Mahony, Tadgh Beirne, CJ Stander, Dan Leavy, Jack Conan, Sean O’Brien, Rhys Ruddock and Josh Van Der Flier to name but a few. My best four would be O’Mahony, Stander, Leavy and O’Brien, but it is anyone’s guess here. leaving out quality players like Van Der Flier is tough.
Some other players that could be considered include the likes of Ian Madigan, Andrew Conway. Kieran Marmion, Dave Kilcoyne, Jordi Murphy as well Rob Herring, Stuart McCloskey and Dave Kearney.