The Ireland squad of 22 for the friendly international against Romania on Saturday week (Thomond Park) contained few surprises when it was announced earlier this week.
With the RWC qualifier against Russia uppermost on their minds the Irish management stuck with the tried and trusted when they named the squad for the game against Romania (Thomond Park, Saturday September 7th).
Manager Brian O’Brien explained that the Russia RWC Qualifier game was the most important ‘at this point in time’ and understandably therefore the onus is on them to pick their strongest possible side for the Thomond game. The list of starters include Kevin Maggs, Denis Hickie and Rob Henderson in the backs, all of whom missed the summer tour to New Zealand.
The return of the back trio means that there will be some debate before the backline is decided on.
With Denis Hickie entitled to an automatic wing berth, John Kelly would be the obvious occupant of the other, leaving Henderson and Maggs vying for the place alongside Brian O’Driscoll in the centre. Ronan O’Gara and David Humphreys will both be watched in Celtic League action this weekend and their form will tip the scales in relation to which of them gets the number 10 jersey.
In the forwards, with Paul O’Connell out through injury, the line-up could be along similar lines to the side that started in Eden Park in June, O’Connell’s place is likely to go to Malcolm O’Kelly.
Ireland Squad Girvan Dempsey (Leinster – Terenure College), John Kelly (Munster – Cork Constitution), Denis Hickie (Leinster – St. Mary’s College), Kevin Maggs (Bath), Rob Henderson (Munster – Young Munster), Brian O’Driscoll (Leinster – Blackrock College), David Humphreys (Ulster – Dungannon), Ronan O’Gara (Munster – Cork Constitution), Peter Stringer (Munster – Shannon), Guy Easterby (Llanelli).
Forwards: Reggie Corrigan (Leinster – Greystones), John Hayes (Munster – Shannon), Paul Wallace (Leinster – Blackrock College), Keith Wood (Harlequins), Shane Byrne (Leinster – Blackrock College), Gary Longwell (Ulster – Ballymena), Malcolm O’Kelly (Leinster – St. Mary’s College), Leo Cullen (Leinster – Blackrock College), Simon Easterby (Llanelli), Anthony Foley (Munster – Shannon), Eric Miller (Leinster – Terenure College), Keith Gleeson (Leinster – St. Mary’s College).
Not considered because of injury: Paul O’Connell (Munster – Young Munster), Geordan Murphy (Leicester), David Wallace (Munster – Garryowen), Anthony Horgan (Munster – Cork Constitution), Shane Horgan (Leinster – Lansdowne).
The Ireland team will be announced at 12 noon approx. on Tuesday next, September 3 following squad training.
Terrace tickets, priced 18, are on public sale. They can be purchased on-line through www.irishrugby.ie and collected from the IRFU offices
at Lansdowne Road. Terrace tickets may also be purchased at the Munster Branch offices at Thomond Park and Musgrave Park (Monday to Friday) or usual Cork and Limerick outlets. Stand tickets are sold out.