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GUINNESS Series Preview: Ireland v Georgia

GUINNESS Series Preview: Ireland v Georgia

Only Simon Zebo and Mike Ross have been retained from last week as Ireland field a much-changed team for Sunday’s second GUINNESS Series outing against Georgia, with Dave Foley and Dominic Ryan making their debuts up front and Robin Copeland poised to win his first cap off the bench.

2014 GUINNESS SERIES MATCH: Sunday, November 16

IRELAND v GEORGIA, Aviva Stadium, 2.30pm (live RTÉ Two/Sky Sports 4 HD/RTÉ Radio 1/IRFU Live Blog)

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Team News: Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt has announced the team to face Georgia in the GUINNESS Series on Sunday, with two new caps – Dominic Ryan and Dave Foley – included.

Back rower Ryan and lock Foley are set to make their first international appearances, while replacement Robin Copeland could be the third Irish debutant on the day.

Scrum half Eoin Reddan will become the 103rd captain of Ireland when he leads the team out for his 57th appearance at Test level.

An all action back-three features Felix Jones, Simon Zebo and Craig Gilroy with Gordon D’Arcy and Darren Cave pairing up in the centre. Ian Madigan is selected at out-half to play alongside his provincial colleague Reddan.

In the pack, Mike Ross is retained at tighthead prop and is joined in the front row by hooker Richardt Strauss and Dave Kilcoyne, who is set for his third start for Ireland.

The second row is made up of debutant Foley and Mike McCarthy, while the back row sees new cap Ryan picked at blindside flanker, Tommy O’Donnell filling the number 7 jersey and Robbie Diack given the nod at number 8.

There is experience on the bench in the form of Devin Toner and Sean Cronin, while props Rodney Ah You and Jack McGrath may get another opportunity to impress.

Copeland is an exciting uncapped addition to the bench, and reserve backs Kieran Marmion, Ian Keatley and Stuart Olding will also be looking to make an impact on the game.

Commenting on ticket sales for the second GUINNESS Series game, IRFU Commercial & Marketing Director Padraig Power said: “We are delighted with sales and really grateful to all the fans who have bought tickets for Sunday’s match against Georgia. It really shows just how popular the team is and how strong the Irish rugby brand is.

“There are over 42,000 tickets sold which is a record for a non-Tier 1 opposition international rugby match here in Ireland.

Tickets are still available on www.Ticketmaster.ie and are great value. For instance, a parent and child can see the game for €;20 – €;15 for the adult and €;5 for the child. Fans can also buy on match day from the Ticketmaster booth located at the Ballsbridge Hotel from 10.30am on Sunday.”

Meanwhile, Georgia boss Milton Haig has made three changes in personnel for his side’s encounter with Ireland. The vastly experienced Irakli Machkhaneli – the captain in last weekend’s 23-9 loss to Tonga in Tbilisi – misses out due to a shoulder injury.

Sandro Todua, who plays for Georgian champions Lelo Saracens, replaces him with Tamaz Mchedlidze moving to the right wing.

Outside centre David Kacharava takes over the captaincy duties of the mostly French-based Georgian side. Ex-Edinburgh forward Dimitri Basilaia returns from injury at number 8 and Giorgi Nemsadze takes over from Levan Datunashvili in the second row.

New Zealander Haig said: “We have prepared well this week. We looked at areas where we can improve from the Tongan game and now we have to make sure we implement our game-plan.

“We’re all very excited about the opportunity we have and know we must make the most of playing one of the best teams in the world.”

Toulon flanker Mamuka Gorgodze (knee) and Clermont Auvergne prop Davit Zirakashvili (concussion) are among the notable absentees from the Georgian squad, but they can count on four players who lined out against Ireland at the 2007 Rugby World Cup.

The Lelos were beaten 14-10 in a closely-fought pool game in Bordeaux. Merab Kvirikashvili, who starts at full-back on Sunday, kicked a penalty and converted winger Giorgi Shkinin’s try that night.

The other survivors from the game seven years ago are centre Kacharava, lock Datunashvili and back rower Giorgi Chkhaidze, with the latter two on bench duty this weekend.

IRELAND: Felix Jones (Shannon/Munster); Craig Gilroy (Dungannon/Ulster), Darren Cave (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster), Gordon D’Arcy (Lansdowne/Leinster), Simon Zebo (Cork Constitution/Munster); Ian Madigan (Blackrock/Leinster), Eoin Reddan (Lansdowne/Leinster) (capt); Dave Kilcoyne (UL Bohemians/Munster), Richardt Strauss (Old Wesley/Leinster), Mike Ross (Clontarf/Leinster), Dave Foley (UL Bohemians/Munster), Mike McCarthy (Lansdowne/Leinster), Dominic Ryan (Lansdowne/Leinster), Tommy O’Donnell (UL Bohemians/Munster), Robbie Diack (Malone/Ulster).

Replacements: Sean Cronin (St. Mary’s College/Leinster), Jack McGrath (St. Mary’s College/Leinster), Rodney Ah You (Buccaneers/Connacht), Devin Toner (Lansdowne/Leinster), Robin Copeland (Young Munster/Munster), Kieran Marmion (Galwegians/Connacht), Ian Keatley (Young Munster/Munster), Stuart Olding (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster).

GEORGIA: Merab Kvirikashvili (Montlucon), Tamaz Mchedlidze (Agen), David Kacharava (Enisei) (capt), Merab Sharikadze (Aurillac), Sandro Todua (Lelo Saracens); Lasha Khmaladze (Lelo Saracens), Giorgi Begadze (Kochebi); Mikheil Nariashvili (Montpellier), Shalva Mamukashvili (Sale Sharks), Davit Kubriashvili (Stade Francais), Kote Mikautadze (Toulon), Giorgi Nemsadze (Tarbes), Giorgi Tkhilaishvili (Batumi), Vito Kolelishvili (Clermont Auvergne), Dimitri Basilaia (Perpignan).

Replacements: Simon Maisuradze (Valence-d’Agen), Zurab Zhvania (Stade Francais), Levan Chilachava (Toulon), Levan Datunashvili (Aurillac), Giorgi Chkhaidze (Lille), Vazha Khutsishvili (Kharebi), Lasha Malaguradze (Stade Bagnerais), Muraz Giorgadze (Armazi Tbilisi).

Referee: JP Doyle (England)
Assistant Referees: Luke Pearce (England), Federico Anselmi (Argentina)
Television Match Official: Jim Yuille (Scotland)

Match Odds (Paddy Power): Ireland to win: 1/100; Draw: 55/1; Georgia to win: 30/1

Pre-Match Quotes: Joe Schmidt (Ireland) – “I think as a squad, we have an expectation that there are some things that we can do on the pitch that will promote individuals, because of the team performance. In terms of team performance, we’ve done a lot of work on our set piece this week.

“We’re hoping to get a really solid platform to begin with. From there, we hope to be able to get a bit of continuity into our play to ask a few questions of the defence. We’d like to maintain the defensive intensity that we displayed last week.

“So, they’re three things that during the week we would have been looking for to try to deliver on on Sunday.

Dominic Ryan has been a powerful influence on games with his ability to hit people behind the gain-line and win collisions, along with his work ethic. I think his ability to get around and have multiple involvements through phases of play has been good.

Dave Foley brings a lineout intelligence. He’s impressed me, and the others in the coaching staff, in the way he’s worked on trying to have clarity in his role and in the roles of other lineout operators in the team, and that hopefully that will be borne out in the performance this weekend.

“He’s had the master to learn from in Paul O’Connell and that certainly helps him, and with Paul in camp this week that’s part of the opportunity to grow players, in that players who have been there already and have done a super job, you want to keep that intellectual property ticking over in the camp.”

Michael Bradley (Georgia assistant coach) – “We don’t get the opportunity to play tier 1 teams outside of the World Cup that much. And from the point of view it is a very important match.

“It is going to be a benchmark game. Georgia are champions of ENC1 (the European Nations Cup) and Ireland are Six Nations champions. Clash of champions might be overstepping the mark a little bit but the point is you have two sides that are champions.

“Georgia is developing as a rugby playing country and also in its confidence as well. Before, they would have been thrilled to bits to be playing Ireland; now it is a case of saying let’s see can we go and beat Ireland.

“The majority of the Georgian players would have watched Ireland perform in most of the matches, they will be very familiar with them as well. The Top 14 lads will be playing against them so there isn’t really a sense of unknown.

“In terms of profile, this match is the one that people will take an interest in outside of our circle. It is a Six Nations team so that is a big ask for us. Last year we beat Samoa in Tbilisi after Ireland had beaten them. Ireland put 40 points on them, we beat them by eight points. That is what you are looking at there.”

Pre-Match Links –

Head-To-Head: Ireland v Georgia

Cave Is Centre Stage For First Aviva Appearance

Gilroy Wants To Show ‘That Little Bit Of Spark’

McCarthy Braced For Physical Battle With Lelos

Feek Primes Scrum For Dose Of Georgian Grunt

Previous Meetings –

November 14, 1998 – World Cup QualifierIreland 70 Georgia 0, Lansdowne Road

September 28, 2002 – World Cup QualifierIreland 63 Georgia 14, Lansdowne Road

September 15, 2007 – World Cup Pool DIreland 14 Georgia 10, Stade Chaban Delmas, Bordeaux

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