The Ireland coaching group have named the Ireland ‘A’ team to play the All Blacks XV at the RDS on Friday (kick-off 7.45pm – live on Virgin Media Two/Virgin Media Player in Northern Ireland).
The Ireland ‘A’ side features 12 players who played against the Māori All Blacks during the summer tour of New Zealand – Craig Casey, Gavin Coombes, Ciaran Frawley, Dave Heffernan, James Hume, Jeremy Loughman, Michael Lowry, Joe McCarthy, Jimmy O’Brien, Tom O’Toole, Cian Prendergast and Nick Timoney.
20-year-old centre Jamie Osborne is one of three members of the Emerging Ireland squad in the starting XV, alongside forwards Prendergast and McCarthy.
Diarmuid Barron, Jack Crowley, Max Deegan and Calvin Nash, who were also on the Emerging Ireland tour to South Africa, are included on the replacements bench.
Munster scrum half Casey will captain the ‘A’ team which features Jacob Stockdale, who last lined out for Ireland against Japan in July 2021, while among the replacements is Martin Moore whose last game for Ireland was against Scotland back in March 2015.
Speaking ahead of the game, Ireland head coach Andy Farrell said: “We’ve got plenty of information about the opposition as individuals. The lads will be well across that. They sure know the experience that the All Blacks XV have got in their side.
“The amount of caps that they’ve got with the captain (42-times capped lock Patrick Tuipulotu) there, and with (Damian) McKenzie and (TJ) Perenara, etc. We know the experience that they’ve got and what they’re going to show.
“We also know that our lads watch plenty of Super Rugby, so that these lads they’re playing against on Friday night are the next cabs off the rank as far as the All Blacks side is concerned.
“Their depth is pretty deep as well, so we know that they are going to be very strong and a big step up from the Māori game.
“At the same time, our lads came in last Sunday and they’ve had a couple of training sessions. We expect them to be up to speed, so most of the concentration has been on ourselves in that regard.”
He added: “Craig was an obvious choice for us as captain. We approached the subject straight away and it was unanimous that it was going to be Craig. Why? Because it’s him just being himself. He’s a natural leader.
“Just the way that he handles himself on a daily basis in and around everyone. He’s the ultimate professional, he prepares really well.
“He’s been in and around this (Ireland) environment for some time now so the responsibility is a nice step in his journey as well.”
IRELAND ‘A’ Team & Replacements (v All Blacks XV, ‘A’ International Match, the RDS, Friday, November 4, kick-off 7.45pm):
Player/Club/Province/Test Caps –
15. Michael Lowry (Banbridge/Ulster) 1
14. Jimmy O’Brien (Naas/Leinster) *
13. Jamie Osborne (Naas/Leinster) *
12. James Hume (Banbridge/Ulster) 3
11. Jacob Stockdale (Lurgan/Ulster) 35
10. Ciaran Frawley (Skerries/Leinster) *
9. Craig Casey (Shannon/Munster) (capt) 5
1. Jeremy Loughman (Garryowen/Munster) *
2. Dave Heffernan (Buccaneers/Connacht) 7
3. Tom O’Toole (Ballynahinch/Ulster) 3 caps
4. Joe McCarthy (Dublin University/Leinster) *
5. Gavin Thornbury (Connacht) *
6. Cian Prendergast (Connacht) *
7. Nick Timoney (Banbridge/Ulster) 2
8. Gavin Coombes (Young Munster/Munster) 2
16. Diarmuid Barron (Garryowen/Munster) *
17. Dave Kilcoyne (UL Bohemians/Munster) 48
18. Martin Moore (Ulster) 10
19. Ross Molony (UCD/Leinster) *
20. Max Deegan (Lansdowne/Leinster) 1
21. Caolin Blade (Galwegians/Connacht) 1
22. Jack Crowley (Cork Constitution/Munster) *
23. Calvin Nash (Young Munster/Munster) *
* Denotes uncapped player at Test level