Ireland Squad – Trip To Oz
Ireland head for Australia in June for three Test Matches against a Michael Cheika coached Aussies side who will want to bounce back from a poor Rugby Championship campaign. Australia will know what awaits them having faced England back in 2016 and they were Grand Slam winners also.
Joe Schmidt will realise that this is an ideal opportunity for his squad to really put out a statement of intent ahead of November 2018 where the World Champions will come to town for one final time before the World Cup in Japan in late 2019.
Ireland are now 2nd in the World and this a real fill up to supporters but you can be sure that all the players will want to drive forward and this Tour will give them the chance to win a Series in the Southern Hemisphere for the first time since 1979.
The squad has two additions in the form of Tadgh Beirne and Ross Byrne, both men will hope to earn a first cap down South. In Beirne’s case he had to head to Wales to get regular game time and in the two years he has spent with the Scarlets he has developed into a really good quality back row and has also played in the second row. He has turned into a master of the turnover and is also quite adept at the “Choke Tackle” that Les Kiss introduced to the Irish set up during the 2011 World Cup in New Zealand.
Ross Byrne has had to bide his time to gain International recognition in the Green jersey having played alongside Luke Mc Grath and Garry Ringrose at 20s level. Both men have graduated to senior level and have been capped on multiple occasions.
Now Ross Byrne will have at least one shot at nailing down the third out half position in the Irish squad. This Tour will be very beneficial to this squad who will want to show the World that they can kick on from winning a Grand Slam and with the way Joe Schmidt has worked his magic since the failure of the 2015 World Cup and build real strength in depth with real quality in each position.
Yes out half is still an issue but we will see the quality of Ross Byrne who has been selected ahead of Joey Carbery many times this year for Leinster. Byrne’s younger brother Harry will steer the Under 20s ship as first choice out half in France this summer. The quality in that family isn’t just confined to one family member.
Micheal Cheika has gotten in early saying it is the ideal chance at lowering the Irish colours since the Grand Slam win in March. Joe Schmidt will have his side well guarded against compliancy and they will go after three wins to seal a very special achievement that hasn’t been done in 39 years.
The time is now for this squad to show that last March wasn’t just a one off and consistency can be achieved until the World Cup in late 2019 where Ireland will try and get to a first ever Semi Final since the first World Cup in 1987……
Cian Mc Gibney