Schmidt 2018 Squad

Joe Schmidt has selected his 42 man squad to take on Italy, Argentina , New Zealand and USA over the next 4 weeks in the Guinness Series in Chicago where they face Italy , then it’s back to the Aviva to face Argentina , the All Blacks and USA.

People will ask why travel to Chicago to play Italy when they face them every 12 months in the 6 Nations , but this decision is purely down to sponsorship and the fact that there will be three games played on the one day in Soldier Field. That field will evoke memories of the 2016 Test match against the All Blacks that saw Ireland defeat them 40-29.

There are only three new names in the 42 man squad namely Ross Byrne, Sam Arnold and Will Addison who will add to the options at full back and in the centre like Jared Payne did before injury ended his career.

Addison looks a real player in his early appearances for Ulster. Both he and Mike Haley were cleverly recruited but unlike others they won’t have to wait 3 or 5 years to qualify to play for Ireland as both have Irish heritage through parents and grandparents. Although Mike Haley hasn’t been selected in the initial 42 man squad injury may still him involved at some point over the next few weeks.

All the focus will be on the two games against Argentina and New Zealand but the other fixtures will be crucial in preparing Schmidt’s men for the 2019 World Cup. It will give Schmidt the chance to see either Carbery or Byrne start a Test at 10 and see how each man gets on leading his team around the field.

Joey Carbery has been exposed to first team rugby in the out half position since his Munster debut back in September. He has controlled Munster in 2 Heineken Champions Cup games and did an admirable job but still has plenty to learn but this move is already paying off as Joe Schmidt’s two first choice 10s are playing regularly not like 12 months ago where Joey Carbery started at 10 vs. Fiji will little or no rugby at out half in the weeks leading into that game.

This year will be different because he will have had a number of weeks at out half to learn his craft. He will learn the game more and more now since his move, he will learn to play going forward and maybe backward as well which will bring him on leaps and bounds.

Ireland will face Italy in Chicago on Saturday week and I will now try and select the XV that will play Italy :

15 Andrew Conway

14 Darren Sweetnam

13 Sam Arnold

12 Will Addison

11 Jordan Larmour

10 Joey Carbery

9 Luke Mc Grath

8 Jack Conan

7 Dan Leavy

6 Sean O Brien

5 Devin Toner

4 Iain Henderson

3 Finlay Bealham

2 Sean Cronin

1 Jack Mc Grath

16 Niall Scannell

17 Dave Kilcoyne

18 John Ryan

19 Quinn Roux

20 Jordi Murphy

21 Kieran Marmion

22 Ross Byrne

23 Stuart Mc Closkey

It’s a huge 4 weeks ahead but the eye can’t be taken from Italy or they could ambush Ireland first up like they did before in the 6 Nations…..

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