Ireland are one of nine different nations represented in the Barbarians squad selected by head coach Pat Lam for next Sunday’s encounter with an England XV at Twickenham (kick-off 3.30pm).
Connacht and Ireland’s Dave Heffernan, Finlay Bealham and Niyi Adeolokun have been included for the Quilter Cup match, which is part of an exciting double header with the Barbarians Women taking on the Red Roses at 12.45pm. Ireland’s Claire Molloy, Sene Naoupu and Hannah Casey are part of the Women’s squad.
Flying winger Adeolokun made his Barbarians debut on the left wing during last May’s record 63-45 win over England at Twickenham, with his Connacht team-mates Denis Buckley and Ultan Dillane also starting. This weekend marks the first time front rowers Heffernan and Bealham will wear the famous black-and-white hooped jersey.
The Baa Baas’ 2019 line-up is headed up by Australia’s James Horwill, who will make the final professional appearance of his distinguished career. Former Ulster players John Afoa and Charles Piutau are Twickenham-bound, along with Welsh scrum half Rhys Webb, Francois Louw from South Africa and England prop Joe Marler.
In line with the invitational club’s traditions, there are four uncapped players in the squad – Edinburgh prop Pierre Schoeman, who was named in the GUINNESS PRO14 Dream Team last week along with his club-mate and fellow Barbarian Bill Mata, Gloucester centre Mark Atkinson, Bordeaux-Bègles out-half Brock James and Toulon winger Filipo Nakosi.
Speaking about the Barbarians selection, former Connacht and current Bristol Bears boss Lam said: “We’ve got really good experience across the board and it’s great that there are nine different countries represented.
“We’re also delighted to have James Horwill on board – he’s had a tremendous career at the top of the game and to give him the opportunity to play his last professional game of rugby with us is pleasing. We’ve selected experience and size up front, exciting players who can make things happen from nothing, and we have some firepower out wide.
“This is a unique team with quality players and it will only play together this one time. So as per last year, I’ll be setting out to get our preparation right on and off the field to ensure we come together as brothers in a short amount of time to hopefully be a world class team on Sunday.”
Tickets for the England v Barbarians double header at Twickenham are on sale with prices from £20 for adults and £10 for children. Tickets are available from www.englandrugby.com/tickets. The two matches will be broadcast live on Sky Sports Action, with the Women’s game also on Sky Sports Mix.
BARBARIANS Squad (v England XV) – Backs (10): Rhys Webb (Toulon/Wales), Rhodri Williams (Dragons/Wales), Colin Slade (Pau/New Zealand), Brock James (Bordeaux-Bègles), Mark Atkinson (Gloucester), Malakai Fekitoa (Toulon/New Zealand), Filipo Nakosi (Toulon), Taqele Naiyaravoro (Northampton Saints/Australia), Niyi Adeolokun (Connacht/Ireland), Charles Piutau (Bristol Bears/New Zealand).
Forwards (13): Joe Marler (Harlequins/England), Pierre Schoeman (Edinburgh), John Afoa (Bristol Bears/New Zealand), Finlay Bealham (Connacht/Ireland), Dave Heffernan (Connacht/Ireland), Richard Hibbard (Dragons/Wales), James Horwill (Harlequins/Australia), Chris Vui (Bristol Bears/Samoa), Steven Luatua (Bristol Bears/New Zealand), Facundo Isa (Toulon/Argentina), Liam Messam (Toulon/New Zealand), Bill Mata (Edinburgh/Fiji), Francois Louw (Bath/South Africa).