Emerging Ireland coaches Allen Clarke and Girvan Dempsey have named their team for Saturday’s World Rugby Tbilisi Cup opening round clash with Emerging Italy at Avchala Stadium (kick-off 5pm local time/2pm Irish time).
There were two late call-ups to the Emerging Ireland squad this week with Jack Conan and Andrew Browne replacing Eoin McKeon and Lewis Stevenson respectively.
Conan starts the tournament opener at number 8 and is joined in an all-Leinster back row by squad captain Rhys Ruddock at blindside flanker with Dan Leavy at openside. Ruddock is one of three senior internationals in the side along with front rowers Rob Herring and Stephen Archer.
The second row is made up of recent Connacht signing Ben Marshall and Billy Holland, while the front row consists of Herring, Archer and Denis Buckley, a member of this year’s PRO12 Dream Team.
Luke McGrath partners JJ Hanrahan at half-back with Stuart McCloskey and Eoin Griffin combining in the centre. The back-three consists of Andrew Conway and Matt Healy on the wings with Connacht’s Tiernan O’Halloran at full-back.
The selected bench includes reserve forwards Dave Heffernan, Andrew Warwick, Finlay Bealham, Browne and Eoghan Masterson, while John Cooney, Rory Scannell and Peter Nelson are the back-line options.
Emerging Ireland coach Allen Clarke commented: “In the short period we have been together we have had a very positive response from the players. The game against Emerging Italy provides an opportunity for these players to illustrate to us how well they have prepared and their ability to cope within this challenging environment.”
Emerging Ireland will play Uruguay in their second game of the tournament next Wednesday before taking on hosts Georgia in the final round on Sunday week. Both Uruguay and Georgia will compete in this year’s Rugby World Cup.
EMERGING IRELAND Team & Replacements (v Emerging Italy, Tbilisi Cup Round 1, Avchala Stadium, Tbilisi, Georgia, Saturday, June 13, kick-off 5pm local time/2pm Irish time):
15. Tiernan O’Halloran (Buccaneers/Connacht)
14. Andrew Conway (Garryowen/Munster)
13. Eoin Griffin (London Irish)
12. Stuart McCloskey (Ballynahinch/Ulster)
11. Matt Healy (Lansdowne/Connacht)
10. JJ Hanrahan (UL Bohemians/Munster)
9. Luke McGrath (UCD/Leinster)
1. Denis Buckley (Corinthians/Connacht)
2. Rob Herring (Ballynahinch/Ulster)
3. Stephen Archer (Cork Constitution/Munster)
4. Ben Marshall (Old Belvedere/Connacht)
5. Billy Holland (Cork Constitution/Munster)
6. Rhys Ruddock (St. Mary’s College/Leinster) (capt)
7. Dan Leavy (UCD/Leinster)
8. Jack Conan (Old Belvedere/Leinster)
16. Dave Heffernan (Buccaneers/Connacht)
17. Andrew Warwick (Ballymena/Ulster)
18. Finlay Bealham (Corinthians/Connacht)
19. Andrew Browne (Galwegians/Connacht)
20. Eoghan Masterson (Corinthians/Connacht)
21. John Cooney (Terenure College/Connacht)
22. Rory Scannell (Dolphin/Munster)
23. Peter Nelson (Malone/Ulster)
Emerging Ireland Management Team –
Allen Clarke – Coach
Girvan Dempsey – Assistant Coach
Joey Miles – Manager
Jim McShane – Team Doctor
Karl Denvir – Physio
Sean Mannion – Team Analyst
Aidan O’Connell – S&C Coach
Johnny O’Hagan – Baggage Man
Carmel O’Dwyer – Squad Coordinator
2015 WORLD RUGBY TBILISI CUP FIXTURES:
Saturday, June 13 –
Emerging Italy v Emerging Ireland, Avchala Stadium, 5pm local time/2pm Irish time
Georgia v Uruguay, Avchala Stadium, 7pm local time
Wednesday, June 17 –
Uruguay v Emerging Ireland, Avchala Stadium, 5pm local time/2pm Irish time
Georgia v Emerging Italy, Avchala Stadium, 7pm local time
Sunday, June 21 –
Uruguay v Emerging Italy, Avchala Stadium, 5pm local time
Georgia v Emerging Ireland, Avchala Stadium, 7pm local time/4pm Irish time